Bullying a Dragon

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
This can't end well.

Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus.[1]

The school motto of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter

See that guy over there? The one that can make Your Head Asplode with his Psychic Powers? What a weirdo. Let's throw rocks at him!

This is the fate-tempting and suicidal tendency of characters to bully, persecute, or in some other way provoke people or things they really shouldn't be messing with. That weird loner who sits in a corner reading? Fine. That sweet girl who can heal people? If you're that much of an asshole, go for it. The blind kid that somehow knows what you're about to do and is powerless to stop you? Yeah, jackass, whatever floats your boat. But the kid who can warp the fabric of reality and just wants to be left alone? Bad idea.

While Bullying a Dragon need not require actual bullying (or actual dragons), it is a reasonably popular method - as long as the provoker or provokers intentionally and excessively antagonize someone much more powerful than they are, knowing full well beforehand just what they are screwing with, then it counts. Also just because a person can beat up or kill a person doesn't mean they have the right to. (As You Know, blowing someone's head off for an minor insult is kind of a dick move.) The Fettered especially have it bad, because they choose not to fight back, and often protect their tormentors from the Forces of Evil.

A Sub-Trope of All of the Other Reindeer, where the character is surrounded by tormentors even though they are known to have some incredible power conducive to being a Person of Mass Destruction, and most of the time because of this. This frequently crops up in Kids Are Cruel (in which case it would be "Kids Are Cruel And Also Freaking Idiots"). It's usually a way of getting us to sympathize with the main character, but, really, bullies should be smart enough not to mock the "freak" Blessed with Suck and Super Strength. Even when logically—or at least using the basest level of human decency and smallest inkling of self preservation—these bullies should find a weaker target or cut the poor kid some slack. So, in a sense, Strawman Bullies. Then, again Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb, the prideful, and the Literally Fearless.

If the victim snaps, they will turn the tables (if not turn the table into a buzzsaw, set it spinning at hurricane-level speeds, and shove their tormenters' necks into the blades). Also, don't lie - it can be fun when the bullies are killed off or else get theirs. (And, if they have not done anything remotely objectionable up to this point, this could well be taken as a case of Dark Is Not Evil.) Unfortunately, many of the times a bully attempts to go after someone of this ilk is because they are trying to elicit a response, which in turn, would prove everyone's point about how much of a freak they truly are.

See also Do Not Taunt Cthulhu. Compare Mugging the Monster, which is at least usually done by accident. If the would-be bullies are not aware of their victim's capability to arbitrarily destroy them, put the example in there. Contrasts with Underestimating Badassery. Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? is a related concept, which may or may not involve this trope.

See also Fantastic Racism. This is a popular backstory for a Start of Darkness. This trope doesn't usually have anything to do with The Dragon, who is a Big Bad's second-in-command. Video Game examples where the AI keeps trying to bully you despite the power difference because it's literally not capable of backing down have a special trope called Suicidal Overconfidence.

Examples of Bullying a Dragon include:


  • The Messing with Sasquatch commercials for Jack Links beef jerky has the Sasquatch going ballistic and inflicting harm upon people who decide to provoke him for cheap laughs.
  • An insurance commercial[context?] shows a bunch of rabbits laughing themselves sick at a rattlesnake with a pink and white baby-rattle in place of a normal one. Did the writers not know that it's the other end of a rattlesnake that's venomous?
  • A couple of Stacker 2 commercials had a man make fun of Kane, the sadistic monster heel from the WWE. Ends about as well as you'd expect...
  • A Spike TV commercial had a pair of convention-goers mock Boba Fett for his unusual name and appearance. It ended badly for them.
  • A Mountain Dew commercial featured a two teens making fun of Chuck Norris with an animated video on the web. Needless to say, Chuck was not pleased.

Anime and Manga

  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Kenichi used to be weak and powerless, and still looks like a little dude due to his training - he also still acts afraid of people who are far, far weaker than him just because they look scary. This is slightly subverted, as the moment the bullies/thugs find out who he is, they usually back off and immediately apologize out of fear.
    • Played much straighter with Natsu Tanimoto (AKA Hermit). Unlike Kenichi, he will not hesitate to murder you, in a way that makes it look like it was someone else, and leaves you black, blue, and red all over.
  • Bleach: Abarai Renji provokes Ichigo during their training in the Urahara Shop - Ichigo was left depressed and terrified by his encounter with the Bount and is fighting extremely feebly, with Renji trying to get him to fight with a clear head again. Renji momentarily regrets being so successful.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Accelerator is the strongest esper in the city, with absurd powers that make him literally untouchable. After being beaten by Touma (whose unique Anti-Magic power handed him a miraculous victory), however, large gangs start regularly trying to attack him. The mess of twisted limbs he leaves in his wake doesn't seem to have any effect on this, much to his complaint (they're so far beneath him that he doesn't bother killing them). They also completely trash his apartment while he's away, but even that fails to get a rise out of him.
    • In fact, the reason he goes along with the Level 6 project is to make himself so powerful that the very thought of challenging him would be ridiculous.
  • Kekkaishi: Gen's backstory has him being picked on for being half-ayakashi. They throw mud at him and then act surprised when he throws a boulder.
  • In the first season of Darker than Black, humans who know about Contractors have a habit of telling Contractor employees how they think they are nothing but murderous scum who should be wiped out. Luckily for them, most Contractors just don't care, but this can get ridiculous when Huang is not only verbally abusing someone who can kill him instantly by touching him, but lifting him up by the front of his shirt and screaming in his face.
  • Happens to Robert Haydn in The Law of Ueki. Taunting a small child who can turn his arm into a six-foot cannon is not a good plan.
  • Espers in Zettai Karen Children are treated with suspicion at best and as non-human scum at worst. It's so bad that one of said dragons grow up to be the "Queen of Disaster" within the span of ten years. The Children's previous handler, a representative from the education department, used shock collars on the girls in order to control them. She had a Freudian Excuse, though: her own mother was equally sadistic and would lock her up if she wasn't "perfect".
  • This is the whole reason Nagi Naoe in Weiss Kreuz is a member of Schwarz - he was ostracized and tormented as a child due to his telekinetic powers.
  • Tekkaman:
    • In Tekkaman Blade (dubbed in English as "Teknoman"), Ringo's constant attempts to pick fights with Blade in the first half-dozen or so episodes count as this - Ringo openly claims that he considers Blade unstable and has seen him effortlessly tear through dozens of Spider-Crabs, which themslves are killing machines capable of wiping out whole platoons of ordinary soldiers.
    • This becomes the premise of Tekkaman Blade II: the events of Tekkaman Blade led to a segment of humanity gaining the power to become a sort of proto-Tekkaman. These "Primary Bodies" have partial Tekkaman powers but are inexplicably persecuted, and twice during the series the Primary Bodies revolt and try to convert themselves into full Tekkamen to take over the world.
  • Fruits Basket: Saki Hanajima (aka "Hana-chan"), one of the main character's friends, is (correctly) rumored to be capable of killing people with her thoughts. The reaction of her peers? "Let's bully her!" Luckily for them, she turns out to be one of The Fettered, but still... In grade school, she almost killed a boy after he forced her to eat a live newt to support the rumor of her being a witch. It came back to haunt her in middle school.
  • Code Breaker: Yuuki, who can manipulate sound waves, tries to use their shared abusive pasts to reason with the poison (and other liquids - she hides her many scars under a thick layer of "makeup")-secreting Lily, to no avail.
  • Dragon Ball has this occur quite often in the Z arcs.
    • First, there's Dr. Gero, who kidnapped and converted a pair of rebellious teenage siblings into the killer cyborgs "Android" 17 and 18. Upon doing so, he realized how difficult they would be to control, and so came up with a new design for future androids that were still frighteningly strong, but limited in power and thus easier to command. Unfortunately, he then had Android 19 and eventually his own body rebuilt with this design. The end result was that when desperation drove him to eventually reactive 17 and 18... well, you can guess.
    • Gero's other creation Perfect Cell does this to Gohan during the Cell Games, upon Gohan warning Cell that he might lose control if enraged, which prompts Cell to try and test that theory at his expense. He finally gets his wish after crushing Android 16's disembodied head, causing Gohan to go SSJ2 and give Cell the thrashing he'd been seeking.
    • Babidi did this to try and control the childlike Fat Majin Buu, threatening to reseal the monster at each display of disobedience (for contrast, his ancestor Bibidi preferred to reward him with cake). Once Goku scolded Buu for letting such a weak coward order him around, Babidi shortly found himself lacking a head.
  • Anyone who tries to bully Sousuke in Full Metal Panic!. Yeah, good idea trying to bully the boy that's carrying an automatic, who was seen sniping at people from the bushes, planting land mines around the school, and threw grenades at anyone who looked at him or Kaname funny. It's actually very surprising how many bullies try to antagonize the "weirdo military freak," considering how outwardly violent he is with everyone, along with how he gets away with any crime he commits.
  • Naruto: Let's see if we can't isolate and otherwise mentally and emotionally abuse a small child who has a giant demon stuck in him, thus ensuring that he doesn't have a reason to keep said demon there. Said demon is noted for being unstoppable unless you're the fourth Hokage.
    • This goes double for anyone who attacks one of the demon hosts. Goes triple for the Kazekage, who has his son, Gaara host a demon, and then tries to assassinate Gaara, someone who is for all intents and purposes, invincible. There's making a stupid choice, and there's just plain ought to know better.
    • Temari deliberately trying to provoke Rock Lee. She's lucky he didn't break out the Dangerous Forbidden Techniques.
    • This seems to be how most Jinchuuriki grow up. Maybe people keep doing it because it somehow actually works?
  • Elfen Lied: When you're pinned down by the monster with the ability to rip you to shreds with their crazy invisible psychic arms, it's probably a good idea not to antagonize them. When one character threatens to kill said monster next time he sees her, the monster solves that problem...by gouging out the man's eyes.
  • Subverted in Slayers with Zelgadis the chimera. Most regular humans either run away in fear or ridicule him for his appearance (and it's also worth noting that he's Nigh Invulnerable and a skilled sorcerer-swordsman), but he doesn't do a thing about it; rather, he either makes a snippy reply or he gets depressed. After he meets the other main characters, though, he begins to take some insults in stride. In the novels, it seemed that he played it straight in the beginning (as "Rezo's berserker"), but it's hinted that Rezo was influencing/manipulating him.
    • Played straight with most of the Mazoku/Monster race, as well as a few other creatures, such as Beastmen (the fifth novel and the scuffle between Beastman Dilgear and Zelgadis early on say it all).
    • Played very straight in the first episode of TV series 4. Lina is encountering some pirates, who at this point know that she is Lina Inverse, who has destroyed cities several times (one of them twice). While running away from her in fear, they for some reason decide to taunt her about her breast size, which they know is a Berserk Button. It doesn't end well, although fortunately the scene is meant as comedy, so they suffer Amusing Injuries rather than being killed.
      • It's not just pirates, it's a Running Gag. Or, as that poster says, "you'd think people would learn that it's a bad idea to piss off short-tempered hurlers of sorcerous tacnukes" - seeing how she is infamous exactly for this, you'd expect people who recognize her to exercise common sense and steer clear of her Berserk Buttons, or even cut all the irrelevant chat when dealing with her - just in case, and the sooner she moves on, the better.
  • Pretty much the entire plot of Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest so far if you switch "Dragon" with "Werewolf". To be fair, the people bullying Inugami don't know that he's actually a super powerful werewolf at first. But when the first thing you see a guy do is to make his opponent stab himself with nothing but Deadly Dodging, your first thought should not be to try and gang up on him. When the second thing you see him do is break someone's hand with his face (the guy punching him hurt himself since Inugami is Made of Iron) and you still want to fight him, you've officially become Too Dumb to Live. Later, when Inugami does reveal his true self to Big Bad Haguro Daoh, Daoh becomes crazily obsessed with him (since Inugami caused Daoh, a bonafide emotionless sociopath, to feel a real emotion for the first time in his life: gut-wrenching fear) and deliberately provokes him in the hopes of getting Inugami to acknowledge him as a Worthy Opponent.
  • The entire (literal) plot of Sohryuden: Legend of the Dragon Kings, which basically had the bad guys deliberately torment each of the four titular brothers to release their dragon nature, and then inevitably get their asses kicked by them when they did.
  • The nameless extras that populate many parts of Violinist of Hameln world are guilty of this trope as charged. You would think that the normal reaction, upon learning, that the dude in Nice Hat right next to you is supposed to be The Antichrist and single-handedly massacred half a town worth of people when he was only ten, should be fear and trying to get away/not to piss him off. Nope, not in this manga.
  • Pokémon gives us Ash Ketchum, an unarmed (constantly?) ten-year old boy who has never let the fact that a Legendary or Mythical Pokémon or armed criminal could reduce him to greasy paste stop him from chewing them out if need be. Highlights include bellowing at Palkia, who just spent half the movie disintegrating space.
    • For a mon-to-mon example, try the Advance Generation episode where Ash caught a Torkoal. Prior to being captured, said Torkoal is the target of literal bullying by Steel-types, which a Fire-type Pokémon like Torkoal would have no problem against.
    • Also, some newbie Pokémon on the team get jealous of Pikachu, and try to antagonize him. Never mind that he is higher level than any of them (despite not evolving), and possessed of powerful Shock and Awe abilities. Particularly dumb when Oshawott does it, given that he's a Water type, and thus takes double the hurt from electricity.
  • In Durarara!!, people at Shizuo's school (both middle and high school) were not the most intelligent lot. This is evidenced by the fact that they thought picking on Shizuo Heiwajima was anything less than a phenomenally stupid idea. The high school kids can be partially excused due to being manipulated by Izaya. The junior high kids? Not so much
  • One Piece
    • Nico Robin was bullied by other children when she was young (who, when she retaliated, would go whine to their parents who chastise her. Of course the kids were most likely lying as they picked on her first without provocation. Robin just wanted to be left alone) and abused by her foster parents (well mostly the aunt. Her uncle never did but was too weak willed to stand up for Robin). I repeat, they abused a child who has the power to grow body parts wherever she wants, which, as she proves later when she single-handedly takes down about fifty marines, is quite a dangerous and potentially deadly power.
    • It's usually Mugging the Monster when it comes to Shanks and Luffy. People rarely appreciate (or even believe) how strong these two are. Two notable examples, however, are Bellamy in the Skypeia arc and Hody Jones after the Time Skip. Bellamy assumed Luffy was a weakling because Luffy wouldn't fight back over a simple insult (he didn't see it as worth the trouble). Then Bellamy got Luffy's wanted poster, with a bounty more than double his own meager sum. He ignored it, and proceeded to rob Luffy's friends. When Luffy came back to get what he stole, Bellamy still refused to accept the truth. Cue getting faceplanted with just one punch to the face. Hody is an even more egregious example, because not only did he know Luffy had beaten Arlong, but knew his exact reputation right down to recent events and still decided to make an enemy of him. While he arguably could have beaten "Luffy as advertised" instead of "Took a Level in Badass Luffy", Luffy's mere reputation alone should have made him think twice. He's the only villain in the entire manga to go down before his crew as a result. That's just how sad a villain he was.
    • Special mention goes to Don Krieg, who picks a fight with Dracule Mihawk, who'd previously turned his several large battleships and army of pirates into one badly trashed battleship with most of his men dead. Then showed up just to finish off Krieg's last battleship due to being bored. Which he did with one swing of his giant sword.
      • Of course, in that same arc, Zoro himself (who, in his defense, was much younger and more naive at the time) was little better, openly challenging Mihawk for the title of World's Greatest Swordsman. Mihawk defeated him using a knife that was literally smaller than one he used to cut vegetables, and the only reason here why Zoro wasn't killed was because Mihawk was impressed by his determination. In many ways, this was An Aesop of the dangers of misjudging your own abilities, a lesson that would need to be learned by many characters in the history of the show.
    • Wow Spandam! It sure was a great idea to frame CP9, six of the deadliest assassins in the world, for the Enies Lobby disaster. It's not like they will want to go after your blood when they find out what you did to them! Oh.....
    • Demalo Black a.k.a Fake Luffy at the start of the second half of the series. The idiot is weak as hell but thinks he can coast by on Luffy's reputation alone to get people to fear him. It manages to attract some high level (and much more dangerous) pirates to him, so that part of the plan went swimmingly. But when he (unknowingly) comes across the real Luffy and tries to threaten him just for simply bumping into him (something Luffy even apologized for), he knocked out flat simply from Luffy's aura. This defeat only makes him even more determined to exact his revenge on Luffy, probably because he's too damn ignorant to realize just what Luffy did to him. Then later during a marine raid he runs straight into Sentomaru, a man who easily handed Luffy his ass two years previous. You can guess how this little encounter ends.
    • Inverted, however, with the World Government's bounty on Sanji. His Wanted Poster specifically states that the bounty is only valid if captured alive, because Sanji is the son of notorious crimelord Vinsmoke Judge, and while Sanji despises his father, the WG doesn't want to get on insmoke's bad side.
    • Two members of CP0 have done this, the "Dragon" in question being Luffy.
      • Blueno has an eccentricity (for lack of a better term) which prevents him from believing anything that he cannot confirm with his own senses, never trusting any sort of third-party information. Thus, during the Enies Lobby Arc, he had been duly warned of Luffy's skills and the gumption the Straw Hat Captain had in intending to declare war on the World Government itself, and nonetheless confronted Luffy alone. Long story short, he quickly did confirm it with his own senses when Luffy trounced him.
      • His teamate Rob Lucci, on the other hand, has nothing but his oversized ego to blame. During the Egghead Arc (where he is a major antagonist while working with the Marines), he defied orders for a chance at a rematch with Luffy, picking a fight with him twice. Both times, Lucci was on the recieving end of a Curb Stomp Battle, never managing to lay a glove on Luffy either time.
    • Tama is not a Dragon, but Nami and Big Mom certainly are, and both have a Mama Bear attitude towards anyone who hurts Tama. So when Ulti makes the incredibly stupid move of hurting poor Tama right in front of both Nami and Big Mom, it ended very badly for Ulti.
  • In the Tales of Symphonia OVA, at one point, you see Presea lifelessly dragging what used to be a huge tree she chopped down through her village of Ozette as everyone in the village stares at her. All of a sudden, some little kid throws a rock at her and yells "Monster!" Uh, kid? You see that huge tree there? You're a heck of a lot lighter than it is.
  • For reasons unknown, people challenge Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star even after he's just exploded someone's head. When the first Mook or batch of mooks provoke him, that could easily be explained as Mugging the Monster. When the second batch tries, having seen the first wave get turned into fountains of blood and body parts, then it slides right into this trope by virtue of them being Too Dumb to Live.
    • It's not like they have any choice in the matter as their bosses WILL kill them if they run away from Kenshiro. Sucks to be a mook in the world of Hokuto no Ken.
  • Played as Flaw Exploitation in the second episode of Death Note: How do you investigate a murderer who can kill you anywhere, anytime with a magic heart attack? Keep annoying him in the hopes he will try to kill you.
    • Also Light frequently bosses Ryuk, a God of Death, around. Ryuk puts up with it for a while because he thinks it's hilarious. And even so, Ryuk is only helpful insofar as he finds it hilarious; he outright won't help Light in numerous situations because it would be too easy.
  • Blue Exorcist: Rin, the son of Satan and a human woman, always felt different from everyone else. Even before his full powers were unleashed, he had a nasty temper and Super Strength. Because of these characteristics, other children picked on him and called him a demon. This resulted in Rin punching them in the face and giving them serious injuries.
  • Many people in Gamaran ends up doing this to Gama and are defeated. Shown also with Baian Maki: in a flashback he fights alone against ten swordsmen who mock his use of the naginata. Baian hits their leader in the face so hard that it snaps his neck and kills him.
  • In Inuyasha, lots of people screw with half-demons, despite the fact that many half-demons openly possess enough raw power to destroy everyone in the towns that scorn them.
  • Mirai Nikki The infamously Yandere Gasai Yuno is crazy about the protagonist Amano Yukiteru. She has killed, dismembered, schemed, plotted, manipulated and done a lot of shit to people with no remorse just because of Yukiteru. And she will get rid of anything that she perceives to be between her and Yuki. Then Yuki gets kissed by Tsubaki and Akise. Their fates go as well as you'd expect.
  • It's commonly interpreted that Nanami in Revolutionary Girl Utena has so much trouble with animals, and at one point actually turns into a cow because she bullied Anthy in episode 3, and as it turns out, Anthy is among other things the proverbial fairytale Witch. An attentive viewer quickly notices that majority of the side-episodes focusing on Nanami's Humiliation Conga show Anthy taking special interest in something related to the episode theme.
  • In Rebuild of Evangelion, Shinji does this after Asuka is nearly killed. Enraged by Gendo's actions, he begins to attack the headquarters while screaming abuse at his father. Gendo is willing to let Shinji do this until the power runs out... right up until Shinji claims Gendo has never lost anything. Ten seconds later, Shinji is unconscious, without Gendo even moving.
  • In Claymore, regular folks tend to hate and fear the eponymous Warriors of the Organization which generally manifests as mutters, dark looks or giving them a wide berth. Which is only understandable considering that even the weakest of the Warriors is a Badass Abnormal Super Soldier who has Implausible Fencing Powers, a Healing Factor and is strong enough to wield their signature claymore swords with just one hand. Then there are the geniuses who decide to try and rape one. Luckily they chose Teresa of the Faint Smile. If they had chosen someone like Ophelia on the other hand...
  • In The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, pretty much everyone hates and fears Cursed Eye bearers, which can do things like copy all magic used in front of them, dissolve people into dust, or any other number of fun activities. The main character, Ryner Lute, possesses the Alpha Stigma, which is the copying version. However, when an Alpha Stigma bearer is driven over the edge, they become homicidally insane and use all of that copied magic to tear the rest of the world a new one. People know this. And yet everyone insists on treating Cursed Eye bearers like crap until the inevitable happens.
  • Ranma ½: Ranma has his moment with Pantyhose Taro. Everybody briefly joins in on repeating his embarrassing name despite his repeated demands for them to shut up...and the fact that he's got a winged minotaur as a cursed form. Which had been kicking their butts for the last two episodes. Despite the fact that they are in a cave with a waterfall outside. Guess they knew it was five minutes before the end of the episode so the plot would be resolved somehow without their pulverization and in a way most likely involving the removal of Taro from their immediate locale.

Comic Books

  • Used in the most literal sense of the title in Fire Breather.
  • It was established in Damage's own series that his "parents" were actually employees set to watch him until the superpowers he'd been genetically engineered for showed up. Given that, later retcons that his foster-father physically and sexually abused him make the guy look extremely stupid.
  • Marvel Comics. Several superheroes and supervillains have this as their raison d'etre.
    • The X-Men franchise as a whole is basically An Aesop for persecution, oppression, etc. Pick something that can make someone different: race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., you name it, that's what X-Men is about. Of course, it also happens to be literally about people with superpowers, which can make it into a Fantastic Aesop in the hands of poor writers: yeah, it's wrong to be mean to people who are different than you, but the fact that they can shoot laser beams from their eyes shouldn't be your main prejudice deterrent. Yeah, there are some that don't have good powers, and picking on them is kinda like racism. Picking on the guy that can shoot lasers from his eyes? Not so much. Though it's worth considering how much of that bullying was done by actual stupid people, and how much was deliberate provoking of a counterattack to further raise anti-mutant sentiments.
    • Almost all evil mutants only became evil because of how they were treated because of their mutations. Apocalypse, probably the biggest Mutant threat to the Marvel Universe, only wants Mutants to shine because in his youth he was rejected by many people because of his grey skin and forgot about his incredible strength and power.
    • Happens to the Hulk all the time. Most of his rampages could have been avoided had they just backed off a bit. Considering his Catch Phrase (apart from "Hulk Smash!", of course) is usually a variation of him bellowing "LEAVE HULK ALONE!" you'd think the denizens of the Marvel Universe would have cottoned on, but then you remember this is the Marvel Universe, where Dragon-bullying (and bitching about the results afterwards) is a widely accepted pastime. This was once lampshaded by Doc Samson, in discussion with General Ross:

Samson: The Hulk keeps yelling at you to leave him alone. So my advice is to leave Hulk alone. Watch him by satellite. If he gets near a populated area, send out Hulk alerts the way we send out weather alerts.
Ross: And if America's enemies get hold of him?
Samson: Send condolence cards to America's enemies.

  • Marvel Comics also has superhero hate groups. To be fair it's relatively safe to hate superheroes so long as you confine yourself to just hating them and not actually attacking them, as heroes are generally people who have ethical restrictions about mulching people outside of legitimate self-defense or defense-of-other.
  • One of the long running gags in the Spider-Man mythos was that Flash Thompson was both a totally fanboy of Spider-Man and and the daily tormentor of Peter Parker. During the Civil War storyline in Marvel in 2006, where Peter had revealed his identity to the world, Flash decided to challenge Peter to a dodgeball match in front of the children at the school they taught at because he refused to believe that Peter could possibly be Spider-Man. It ended with Peter kicking the dodgeball full force into Flash's face, giving shiner on each eye. Of course, for this to happen, decades worth of Character Development had to be stripped away from Flash, who previously had matured from his high school days and become a close friend of Peter's.
  • Maybe not as extreme as the other examples (since he has no actual super-powers), but there have been a few times where Frank Castle (AKA The Punisher) ends up in jail. Since Frank is a known Badass with a body count nearly as high as The Joker, criminals waste no time in throwing their lives away by trying to attack him. Frank, who is inevitably heavily restrained, adds a few more bodies to the count before the guards show up.
    • To be fair, at least some of that can be considered pure survival instinct, since when the Punisher is locked up he's usually a) allowed it to happen, and could escape anytime he wants, and b) come from the Rorschach school of vigilante jail time, where he's not locked in there with them -- they're locked in with him. There have even been times when he's got himself thrown in prison solely to kill some of the inmates, so you can't blame the inmates for taking some pre-emptive action.
      • We entirely can blame them, and do. The people who go and try to shank Frank are inevitably the ones he kills first. Surely it would be more sensible to not volunteer for the position? Frank never stays in prison very long, its entirely possible to be one of the 95+% of inmates he doesn't have time to murder simply by not rushing to the forefront.
    • Nicky Cavellla. He wanted to eliminate the Punisher, and thought he could do it by making him clumsy. To do that, Nick dug up the Punisher's family's remains, pissed on them while recording him doing so, and sent the video to the local news. His plan worked, and Frank stopped being as methodical as he normally is, but with the trade-off that Frank went into such an Unstoppable Rage that he killed several important figures in Cavella's criminal family in one day. The remaining family ditched Cavella, and the Punisher shot him in the stomach.
  • Iron Man/Tony Stark tends to do this a lot, usually in defense of his teammates, due to being a Martyr Without a Cause.
  • J. Jonah Jameson has been slinging Malicious Slander towards Spider-Man almost since day one. The man's career would never have lasted as long as it has if Spidey truly was the criminal menace he accused him of being.
  • Not just Spider-Man either, he's gotten on Norman Osborn's bad side too. The man just doesn't know when to quit.
  • Beast Boy of the Teen Titans spent most of his life enduring this kind of bullying, which has had a profoundly negative effect on his self esteem; so much so that he's afraid to let anyone know that he can make multiples of himself.
  • A prisoner threatens to kill Rorschach in Watchmen in the lunch line (and is building up to shank him), confident that in prison, he won't be as tough. Rorschach, being Homicidal, Ax Crazy, and a Combat Pragmatist, throws hot grease in his face before he can even lift a finger, burning him horribly. Right after this, he deliberately invokes the trope.

"None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me!"

  • Afterwards, three other guys try to kill him. Admittedly, they thought they had the advantage over him... but once again, underestimated him. They also die bloodily.
  • In Secret Six, a handful of carnies attack Bane during his date, which goes as well you'd expect. But instead of retreating when the 7-foot giant takes out half their number casually, they try to kill his girlfriend instead
  • Happened in an issue of Jack Kirby's Etrigan the Demon series, where a creature like Frankenstein's monster created by a mad scientist was subject to a street gang throwing bricks at him and taunting him. When they captured a girl who had been in psychic communication with him (don't ask), all he had to do was stand up and the gang quickly retreated.
  • King Mob lampshades this in The Invisibles. Luckily for his sake, the red-neck is Genre Savvy enough to back down:

KING MOB: I'm telling you that you're in the wrong film, fatboy. You're not in the cowboy film you thought you were in. This is a different kind of movie. And you're in the scene where the redneck shitkicker picks on the stranger in town, only it turns out to be big Arnie or a gang of vampires. I'll bet you've seen that a million times, cowboy.
KING MOB: So here's the deal: you've just made the mistake of your life but you can wash away your sins by apologizing to the lady. Otherwise I squeeze, you pop and guess who's singing castrato in church on Sunday?
BILLY-BOB: I... ah... I called you a faggot and... ah... well, I'm sorry. Fuck.
LORD FANNY: That's all right, darling. I am a faggot. And you do have a lovely dick.

  • People spend rather a lot more time insulting, belittling, and reprimanding the Great Red Dragon in Bone than in probably wise.
  • One of the stories in Volume 2 of Witch Girls Tales features the team of Witch Girls falling victim to what starts off as Mugging the Monster... but it turns into this when one of two remaining thugs decides to charge one of the witch girls after they've already dispatched most of the group with their magic. He also didn't read the atmosphere and chose to charge Heroic Comedic Sociopath and Token Evil Teammate Princess Lucinda, rather than one of the ones who had previously been seen using non-lethal methods. He's turned into a bug for his troubles... but he still doesn't stop doing this, as when the final gang member is turned into a frog, he taunts said person who is now roughly ten times his size and his natural predator. Predictably, he gets eaten.
  • Monica from Brazilian comic Monica's Gang is frequently taunted by her male friends for being overweight, bucktoothed, and short (among other things). Too bad she is A) easily irritable B)superstrong and C)armed with a plush bunny. Not to mention single-minded.
  • A more lighthearted example was Mars Attacks Image!. This was a Crack Fic one shot where the martians from Mars Attacks! invade the Image comics version of Earth, which is defended by guys like The Savage Dragon, Gen 13, and Spawn. Suffice to say, it turned out badly for the martians.
    • Something similar happened in another crossover one-shot where they invaded Judge Dredd's turf. Either these martians are the type who really love a challenge or they're just plain dumb.
  • Anther villain - or rather, group of them - who do this via crossovers is the Predator, a race of alien hunters who often woefully chooses the wrong prey. In different comic book crossovers, they have tried to hunt Superman, Batman, Tarzan, and again, Judge Dredd, all with disastrous results for the Predator. The last one is especially ironic because Dredd had a partner for this story - Judge Schaefer, as in the great-great granddaughter of Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character from the original Predator. Yeah, not the best pair of targets.
  • The Hellboy comics subvert this when Liz's powers pop up by themselves one day - she was rushed to the BPRD, and the people taking care of her were afraid to go near her, but only because she couldn't control her power.

Fan Works

  • More Pony-fun. In Progress, Angel Bunny attacks Princess Luna with baseballs, knowing full well who she is. She freaks out at first, but after a little therapy with Fluttershy and Applebloom, she tries to keep cool about it until he breaks her glasses. Then she snaps.
  • In The Vinyl Scratch Tapes, another My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic, Vinyl calls Princess Celestia out during a live broadcast interview for the whole "banishing your sister to the moon and never checking up on her even once for a thousand years" thing. Her co-host Octavia is horrified by Vinyl's behavior and is stunned when Celestia accepts it with good grace instead of having them immediately yanked off the air and thrown into prison.
    • This comes back to bite Vinyl big time, when Princess Luna royally chews her out for giving Celestia a huge guilt trip over the incident when it was entirely Luna's fault to begin with and she had no other choice but to banish her.
  • in Running From Myself, yet another My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic, two former classmates of Twilight Sparkle mock her and call her names in front of everypony like they used to. Given that Twilight is the personal protege of Princess Celestia, who also happens to be the absolute ruler of the kingdom they live in, this is one of the dumber moves of the age even before factoring in the part that Twilight is also publicly known to be the most powerful unicorn wizard alive.
  • Lampshaded in the Death Note fic The Prince of Death when Naomi hits Light (who in this ficverse has become a literal God of Death) and L fearfully thinks in his Internal Monologue that she might as well have struck The Grim Reaper in the face.


  • The Backstory of The Covenant is that one of the adult warlocks was persecuted and burned at the stake. He was persecuted for being a high-level Reality Warper, lesser members of said species being able to not only fly and throw fireballs but survive head-on collisions with Mack trucks. Exactly how 1600's Massachusetts villagers concluded taking him on was a good idea, let alone succeeded, is never explained.
  • The bizarre homoerotic scene in Powder where a bunch of bullies try to strip the main character naked after they catch him checking out other boys in the shower. Seems more like a scene from a porno, really, but the point is that the eponymous character was established to have electromagnetic superpowers. This scene takes on an even darker and more disturbing tone when you consider that director of the film is a convicted pedophile.
  • Liz in Hellboy: Hey, it's that freaky introverted Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette kid who starts fires with her mind! Let's throw rocks at her (on her birthday no less, according to the art book)! Hey freak, you're smoking, are you on fi-- (insert Apartment Block-Shattering Ka-Boom here).
    • Things aren't easier for Hellboy once he's "outed" in the sequel:

Pedestrian 1: Hey, you're Hellboy!
Hellboy: Yeah!
Pedestrian 1: Man, you're ugly!
Pedestrian 2: (throws can at Hellboy's feet)

  • Lampshaded and averted by Ray in Hancock. He lets Hancock pretty much do whatever he wants, because as Hancock is both as physically powerful as Superman and a total Jerkass he could kill the whole family if he wanted to (at least as far as he knew). Everyone else, though... Especially inexcusable with the inmates in the prison, most of whom had already encountered Hancock personally!

Hancock: If you don't move, your head is going up his ass. Y'all fellas sure you wanna ride this train?
Matrix: Choo, choo, asshole...
[Hancock shoves Matrix's head up into Man Mountain's ass]

  • Watchmen
    • Rorschach finds himself getting threatened in prison by the very same inmates that he beat up and put there. After stomping one of them, he proclaims. "You people don't get it. I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me!"
    • There was also that guy who kept begging various costumed adventurers to "punish" him. And then he did it to Rorschach, who promptly tossed him down an elevator shaft.
    • The anti-vigilante protesters in front of Studio 54. One of them hits the Comedian in the head with a beer bottle and he flips out, beating them up and firing tear gas at them as they're trying to flee.
  • Portrayed as the South African government's Idiot Ball in District 9. Yes, let's confine a million alien refugees with highly advanced weaponry and space-faring technology to a hideous slum, treat them like garbage and deny them basic rights. It makes you hope that Christopher Johnson comes back with an entire alien armada.
  • In District 9's spiritual ancestor, Alien Nation, the Idiot Ball is held by Los Angeles. Yes, let's piss all over the guys that are super-strong and highly intelligent. Let's recapitulate every moronic Race Trope our society worked to get past. Yeah, that's bright.
  • In Ang Lee's Hulk, after Bruce Banner is captured and contained in a purportedly Hulk-proof room, Glenn Talbott, needing a blood sample, enters the room, and shocks Bruce repeatedly with a cattle prod to try to get him to change into the Hulk. At this time, Talbott is wearing a cast and a neck brace, because earlier in the movie, when Bruce changed into the Hulk, he used Talbott as a melee weapon to beat two other people into unconsciousness. Luckily for Talbott, this attempt fails.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Blonsky, hopped up on super-soldier serum, advances on the Hulk unarmed, taunting him, "Is that all you got?" after watching him tear apart an armored division. Blonksy promptly gets kicked into a tree, breaking about every bone in his body.
  • Harry Potter
    • Even after the Dursleys become fully aware of Harry's abilities, they continue to antagonize him at every opportunity. Aunt Marge finally pushes it too far in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when she speculates that Harry's dad was a drunk, causing Harry to freak out and "blow her up."
    • The Dursleys' sole protection against Harry turning them into newts are the laws against the use of magic by underage wizards off Hogwarts grounds. Throughout the entire series they never draw the logical conclusions that a) if Harry ever decides to kill, maim, or torture them then he has by definition already decided to disregard the law completely and b) unless they plan to kill him first, Harry will be legally of age within several years and thus entirely capable of giving himself a seventeenth birthday present that might hypothetically involve the Cruciatus curse and their faces. Fortunately for them, Harry is The Hero and never actually does this, but that's a lot of trust to place in the innate decency of someone you are simultaneously deriding as a depraved freak. What were they thinking, indeed.
  • In The Ninth Configuration, a bar full of bikers decide that it's a good idea to mercilessly taunt and humiliate a pair of soldiers. One of the soldiers is Colonel Badass Vincent "Killer" Kane, an unbalanced walking death machine from the Vietnam War. After suffering through monstrous indignities, he finally snaps and slaughters the entire gang of bikers, including the women, with his bare hands.
  • Mighty Joe Young (the original) has a trio of drunkards give the titular giant gorilla alcohol—enough to inebriate him. This clears them out of booze and in retaliation, one of them burns Joe's hand as he begs for more. Joe then bursts out of his cage for a drunken Roaring Rampage of Revenge through a nightclub.
  • Ray Harryhausen's 20 Million Miles to Earth can best be summarized as "Please do not bully the Ymir." It's one of Harryhausen's iconic and most sympathetic monsters.
  • King Kong post-Skull Island tends to suffer one indignation after another (not that Skull Island was a picnic), so that when he bursts out of his bonds, the audience is usually behind Kong's rampage.
  • The Tyrannosaurus Rex's death toll in US/Japan Co-Production The Last Dinosaur might have been less if the Great White Hunter didn't insist on trying to kill it again and again. Then again, the title refers to the Great White Hunter as it does the Tyrannosaur.
  • In Rocket Boy, a random hostage made a butterfingers comment when Hawkhead dropped a glass. Hawkhead shows it's unwise by tractoring the hair from that extra one foot into the air before letting it return to its normal position. A few minutes later, the ventriloquist dummy hopes Hawkhead doesn't drop him.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - National Security Advisor Galloway constantly treats the Autobots like enemies, making demands and threatening them with expulsion from Earth. Aside from the fact that they have no authority to exile the Autobots from Earth, just America, this is all in spite of the fact that Earth relies on the Autobots to protect them from the Decepticons, which they do purely out of the goodness of their cybertronic hearts. There's also the fact that the Bots are giant alien robots who could easily turn Galloway into a greasy smear if they were malicious enough to do so.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon: The Autobots are eventually exiled. The entire city of Chicago is leveled within the next forty-eight hours. Optimus Prime fakes his troops' death to prove his point.
  • Happens briefly in the first Spider-Man movie, where Peter is called a freak by one jock after he beats Flash Thompson up.
  • Con Air. Nicolas Cage's character Cameron Poe finds himself in prison because a few drunks in a bar decided to bully him. What makes this go from a mere bar brawl to suicidal stupidity was that Poe was a US Army Ranger in full uniform (including Ranger tabs, which MOST people know is universal shorthand for Badass) at the time—and that the bullies escalated from words to an actual attack. Ranger hand to hand combat training takes over, one of the bullies dies, and Poe finds himself facing a judge who doesn't go in for 'self defense' pleas. Which is quite odd. Five against one, or even one on one, doesn't require a weapon as evidence to prove self-defense.
    • A dead body, on the other hand, does require evidence that you were attacked with lethal force and were thus justified in killing the dude. Of course, why the testimony of eyewitnesses such as his wife did not count as 'evidence' is a mystery for the ages.
  • Micah in Paranormal Activity. Your girlfriend says that a demon has been harassing her since childhood. You set up a camera at night that confirms her story. A psychic warns you that antagonizing the demon will only piss it off, but that a Demonologist might be able to help. What do you do? You say to hell with hiring a Demonologist (or at least a Priest!) and instead decide to call the demon a pussy at every opportunity and constantly dare it to do its worst. Its worst is possessing your girlfriend, and killing you.
  • In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible, as his Secret Identity, works at an insurance company and is constantly browbeaten by his tiny boss, voiced by Wallace Shawn. When the boss stops Mr. Incredible from coming to the aid of a mugging victim, then makes fun of the situation, he loses his shit and throws his boss through a few walls. Even if his boss didn't know he had superpowers, Mr. Incredible has about five feet and a couple hundred pounds on him.
  • Hung with a lampshade in the The Dark Knight Saga

Lucius Fox: "Let me get this straight: You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck."

  • Superman Returns - Granted he has that "boy scout" reputation, and Lex has kryptonite present, but wouldn't you think, that if he possibly survived, especially considering his luck in the past, beating the crap out of one of the most powerful superheroes in the DC Universe would have some kind of repercussions? Of course it did. Cue Idiot Ball.
  • Violent Shit 2 has a couple of guys making fun of Karl the Butcher as he slowly approaches, blissfully unaware of the mask and machete. They get killed, unsurprisingly enough.
  • The 1971 Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks does it to the protagonist, Miss Price, twice. First when Charlie, the eldest of the three wards, attempts to blackmail her with the knowledge that she's a witch, and second when the raiding Nazis lock her and the children in a castle that's been converted into a museum. To be fair in the Nazis' case, they don't believe she's a witch, despite her attempting to cast a spell on their commanding officer in her house, but Charlie really should have known better...
  • The WWII film Tora! Tora! Tora! has Admiral Yamamoto deliver this apocryphal line after Pearl Harbor: "I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
  • Wyatt Earp in Tombstone . What's that? The infamous Kansas lawman is in town? Let's mock him, mess with him, kill people in front of him, terrorize his family and eventually kill his brother. What could possibly go wrong?
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, a pair of idiot ravers start taunting Jason, apparently not realizing he is a nearly seven foot tall mountain of a man in a creepy mask.
  • Tank: Let's say you're a Fat Redneck Sheriff who owns your small town. One of your deputies gets out of line with a prostitute and this guy comes to her rescue. Now let's say "this guy" is a tough-as-nails career army sergeant who just wants to live in peace with his family. Oh, and he owns a fully operational Sherman Tank. Hey, let's throw his son in jail on trumped-up drug charges and blackmail him! What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
    • Hey, the sergeant actually knuckled under and mortgaged everything he owns to pay you the bribe you demanded for letting his son go! So now's the perfect time to go back on that deal and keep his son in jail, and then double down by smugly informing the master sergeant that you want to be paid this much money every year or else his son will die in a tragic prison accident. It's not like upping the stakes from 'Do you want your son to have a criminal record?' to 'Do you want your son not to be murdered' would make his father desperate or anything, would it?
  • The Avengers
    • Loki tries to scold The Incredible Hulk, claiming that he was a god and the Hulk, along with everyone else should bow before him. The Hulk merely grabbed him and slammed him around like a rag-doll.

Hulk: Puny god.

  • Tony Stark, in his typical recklessly Jerkass way, is talking to Bruce Banner about his anger management and gives him a mild electric shock to see how controlled he is. Even though Bruce doesn't seem too bothered by it, Steve Rogers quickly gives Stark a What the Hell, Hero? about it, especially since they're all on the SHIELD helicarrier at high altitude, which would very quickly turn into a lethally fragile confined space if the Hulk did go on a rampage.
  • Bloody Hell: Antagonise the guy who single-handedly killed multiple bank robbers. That will totally end well.
  • In Happy Gilmore, Shooter and obnoxious and petty Upper Class Twit gets his true comeuppance after repeatedly insulting Larson, a huge, hulking fellow who can bend a golf club as if it were a pipe cleaner - Shooter isn't all-that smart...


  • Subverted in Kitty Goes to Washington, by Carrie Vaughn, wherein the titular Kitty is kidnapped and forced to shape shift on TV, and the only real consequences the SENATOR that set it all up incurs is an off-screen lawsuit and criminal charges.
  • Carrie's mother from Stephen King's Carrie. Unlike Carrie's jackass classmates who knew nothing of her telekinetic powers, Ms. White was all too well aware of her daughter's potential, so her persistent abuse of Carrie definitely classifies as Bullying a Dragon bordering on Too Fanatically Pious To Live.
    • In fact, Carrie's mother had almost killed her once before when she was three, all because Carrie accidentally saw her then-teenage neighbor's breasts (said neighbor had fallen asleep in her backyard while sunbathing and her top had slipped off). The only thing that stopped her was being frightened into submission after witnessing Carrie wreak havoc with the house; unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep her from continuing the abuse for the next fourteen years.
  • The Dursleys in Harry Potter. In what little fairness that could be mustered, it is illegal for Harry and other wizards to retaliate via magic, but that doesn't stop Hagrid and Harry on occasion. And they were abusing him before they knew it was illegal for him to retaliate magically. They also seemed to think that they could "stamp the magic out" of him by treating him badly. And were also oblivions to the fact that its illegal to assault or kill people, i.e., if Harry ever decided to attack them then the underage magic laws wouldn't stop him for a second because he's already decided he's not afraid of breaking the law.
    • Given how sadistic Bellatrix Lestrange is, it's not a surprise this leads to her downfall when she provokes Molly Weasley by taunting her about her children's deaths.
    • When Hagrid comes to collect Harry, Vernon demands that he leave, threatens Harry in front of him, insults magic and continues making Hagrid angry until he pushes Hagrid's Berserk Button. Which is an exceptionally dense thing for Vernon to do given that Hagrid is about nine feet tall and 500 lbs. of pure muscle, and had just finished taking Vernon's shotgun away from him with his bare hands and tying it in a knot.
    • The goblins trained the dragon guarding a Gringotts vault by pressing hot metal against its face while ringing the Clankers, so the dragon would learn to retreat when he heard the noise. The dragon ends up destroying part of the bank while helping the trio escape.
    • Wizards often bully house elves, who are considerably more powerful than them.
      • Never in the books it is made explicit that elves are more powerful than wizards. They just use a kind of magic that wizards rarely bother to (or even can) counter. But about the most powerful this magic gets is teleporting at will into places wizards can't.
        • Also, it is mentioned that house elves generally can't use their magic without permission from their masters. Besides that, their extremely servile personalities guarantee they won't retaliate no matter how badly they are mistreated.
    • Fun fact: The Latin motto of the Hogwarts school, Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus, means "Never tickle a sleeping dragon."
    • In the third book, Malfoy openly insults a hippogriff even though it is very large, very dangerous, understands everything you say and will turn hostile if you don't treat it with proper respect. Yes, let's ignore the words of the teacher who has spent his entire life working on magical beasts, there's obviously no situation that cannot be improved with a dash of spiteful arrogance. Insulting always works.
      • In his defense, it did.
        • ... by pure luck, because if that hippogriff's attack had landed three inches to the side Draco wouldn't have a brachial artery anymore and would have bled to death before they could get him to the nurse's office.
  • In the book Benvenuto by Seymour Reit, the titular dragon, belonging to a boy named Paolo, is bullied by an older boy named Roy Selby. When Paolo tells Roy to lay off Bevenuto, Roy is all too eager to beat up Paolo. And the dragon, despite his small size, starts dishing out firey retribution to Roy for picking on his friend!
  • Occurs in the backstory to The Belgariad: Gorim bullies UL, hinted at being that universe's equivalent of God, into accepting him and his people.

"How do you bully a God?"
"Very, very carefully."

  • The 'bullying' is strongly implied to have been emotional blackmail, which even the most powerful of the gods are still susceptible to. It definitely wasn't anything physical.
  • The Three Blind Mice; you'd think any mice, let alone blind ones, would know better than to tease the Farmer's Wife. They were lucky she only cut off their tails with a carving knife.
  • Pointing this trope out is how Zedd drives off a lynch mob after him in the first book of the Sword of Truth series. The mob is going after him because they believe he has terrible magic powers, so Zedd asks them to list what some of these powers might be, and once they do, Zedd points out how brave these men must be to come after a Person of Mass Destruction with nothing but torches and pitchforks. This is enough to make them back down, though Zedd throws in an additional mind game to make them really sorry.
  • In the Mercy Thompson books, Jesse Hauptmann is beat up because her father, Adam, is a werewolf (in fact, he's the local Alpha). Luckily for her attackers, she won't tell her father who they are, as she doesn't want them to be killed.
  • In the Deepgate Codex books, we have Carnival, who is the scapegoat of the eponymous city. To be fair, they have reason to hate her—she kills one of their citizens every month to sustain herself—but they tend to take things a little too far by blaming her for every little thing. In one of the books, she's just looking for a safe place to hide when a little girl wanders up to her; the girl's mother grabs her away, starts screaming "Don't you touch her, bitch!" at Carnival, and calls the guards down. The mother then reports that Carnival had attacked them to the Church (which tries to hunt her down), when all she did was run away.
  • People try to bully Drizzt of The Dark Elf Trilogy a lot, on the assumption that he's a normal evil drow. Amusingly, the fact that he isn't is the only reason they don't end up holding their intestines with their hands.
  • In two books (The Wizard Heir and The Dragon Heir) there is a girl named Madison who is a witch. People frequently blame her for the many fires that happen around town. This is disproved when the fires are revealed to have been being started by the son of a prominent businessman that wants the mountain Madison lives on because the mountain has a very large deposit of coal that he wants to mine. The boy, even though he's a wizard, takes this to extremes by eventually trying to burn down Madison's house, with her and her younger siblings inside, claiming that the town knew something was wrong with her and all he had to do was point the finger at her and they'd all believe him because of his position.
  • In the early days of Julian May's Galactic Milieu world, people with Psychic Powers were actively discriminated against, and frequently attacked, often on religious grounds. One prominent (female) psychic was gunned down by a priest, loudly quoting "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!" This led directly to psychics discovering that they could set fire to people just by being angry enough.
  • Averted in The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King. A Mook approaches Badass Roland Deschain while his back is turned, intent on harm as evidenced by his hand on his knife. Roland, without bothering to turn around or even look up, advises him to "Do yourself a favor, cully, and go sit down." The Mook wisely does so, almost certainly avoiding harm or even death. Roland is later shown to be a Hardcore Badass when he is Zergrushed by the townsfolk, and kills every man, woman and child in town.
  • Throughout The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, Bayaz, First of the Magi and Logen "The Bloody Nine" Ninefingers are underestimated, dismissed, or even insulted, threatened, or ignored as irrelevant, always to the sorrow of those who did so.
  • People keep antagonizing Honor Harrington. They know her record. They know what she can do. They know her in-universe Fan Nickname is "The Salamander" because she survives - and wins - battles that can and have killed equally skilled officers. They know she has a living buzzsaw as a pet/partner, the ear of the Queen, the loyalty of virtually the entire Manticoran Navy and scores of scary people for whom this is a Berserk Button. But they keep doing it. Exceedingly unpleasant consequences (usually involving bleeding and/or death) follow. Especially for Pavel Young. Being fair, Honor's opponents largely fall into two classes—those that believe her status as The Fettered will keep her from physically attacking them (her domestic political opponents and the like), and those who have no real choice because they are military personnel whose governments have ordered them to attack the Star Kingdom—which Honor is one of the senior military officers in charge of defending.
    • The same goes -- perhaps even more so -- for the utter fools who keep trying to hurt Anton Zilwicki's kids. After the bodies stopped bouncing from that one, they shifted focus primarily from trying to kill his kids to trying to kill him—which is still this trope, but is at least some kind of improvement. Being fair, after their initial mistake in starting a literal blood vendetta with Zilwicki they'd already gone past the point of no return -- even if they stopped trying to kill him, he damn sure wouldn't stop trying to kill them.
    • Averted when one of Luiz Rozsak's subordinates suggests having Lt. Thandi Palane, who is trying to quit their criminal conspiracy, killed to tie up the last loose end. Roszak quite reasonably points out that she is unlikely to testify against them as the people she is defecting to are allies of convenience that would still benefit indirectly from Roszak's success... and also points out that not only was Palane the deadliest person in their entire gang, but that her new friends include the galaxy's most notorious terrorist, the deadliest assassin in known space save possibly Palane herself, and one of the greatest spymasters alive.
    • In The Service of the Sword, Midshipwoman Abigail Hearns suffers some nasty hazing and harassment from one of her fellow middies. Her harasser, being a scion of one of Manticore's higher noble families, felt himself entirely safe from any retribution, especially since Abigail's homeworld of Grayson was at that time an obscure minor planet that has recently become one of the Star Kingdom's allies and so certainly could not boast anything remotely matching his own family's influence and connections. Several weeks into his campaign the CO of his ship summons said harasser in for a friendly chat to point out that Abigail may be from the 'backwards planet' of Grayson but she's also Grayson royalty, her father being absolute ruler of one of the planet's sovereign principalities, and that the putz really needs to rein it in before her father actually finds out out about any of this and precipitates an interplanetary diplomatic shitstorm in response. In the same conversation he points out to the overly-proud son of a lord that he, the CO, is himself a Manticoran aristocratic scion as well as the cousin of the Prime Minister... and even he has to give social precedence to Abigail in non-military situations because as Steadholder Owens' daughter, her social rank in Manticoran protocol is equivalent to that of a princess.
  • Happens in the Mass Effect novel Ascension where one of the kids in the Ascension Project decides to pick on Gillian Grayson. To be fair to the kids picking on her it didn't seem that she had much power but boy was he mistaken.
  • In The Bible, a group of young men mock Elisha, one of God's prophets. Guess what happened next.
    • Earlier parts of the Bible have quite a few incidents where the Hebrews get tired of their god, with the most famous being the incident with the golden calf. To be fair to those Hebrews, Moses was busy receiving the whole 'No gods before Me' thing, and hadn't gotten around to relaying the message.
    • Harassing Old Testament prophets frequently qualified for this trope. Elisha's mentor Elijah had a habit of calling down fire from heaven when disrespected, disbelieved, or threatened.
    • Jesus himself was almost stoned on several occasions, but he just walked through the crowd unharmed each time. His disciples wanted him to call down fire on one occasion, but he told them he wasn't into that sort of thing. Even when he was being arrested just prior to his resurrection, he very calmly points out that he has all of Heaven's angels on speed dial if he wanted a Big Damn Heroes moment. And while hanging on the cross, he was mocked: "If you really are the Son of God, then come down from there!" The Book of Revelations lays out the future comeuppance that those who reject(ed) him can look forward to.
  • More or less played straight in Darkest Powers with Derek, who, being a sixteen-year-old werewolf, is incredibly strong and capable of catching a thrown bowling ball with no trouble whatsoever. The day after his somewhat over-the-top defense of his brother ends up with him breaking said tormentor’s back by accident, he gets surrounded by a bunch of kids - including the hospitalized one’s younger brother - who are looking to pick a fight and get revenge. Not the smartest idea considering what he had just shown to be capable of, though it’s probably worth noting that none of them knew he was a werewolf or about the full extent of his strength. But still, going after a guy who broke someone’s back just by throwing him? Not a good idea, guys.
    • Whether they know he's a werewolf with super strength or not is almost a moot point. At sixteen years old, the guy is over six feet tall and about two hundred and twenty pounds of muscle. Why would you piss him off?
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's book The Thirteenth Child, Eff is the titular thirteenth child, doomed to bring bad luck, and turn out evil. What does Eff's uncle do? What do you think...? Eff even asks her Uncle why he would do so, when he knows what she's supposedly capable of. Ultimately, she does snap and (accidentally) proves what she can really do, leading even him to realize that, hold up, maybe I shouldn't be bullying the dragon after all. The twist is that she may not really be an evil thirteenth child, as under a different magic system thirteen is a lucky number!
  • There are a surprising number of factions in Iain Banks' The Culture novels who think it's a good idea to fuck with the Culture. Never ends well.
    • These factions are either themselves among the most powerful civilizations of the galaxy, or are kept in the dark about The Culture firepower... by the Culture itself.
  • Cassie Suthorn in the BattleTech novel Close Quarters provokes enemies in the Mechs by firing a rifle at the cockpit. The rifle only causes a light ping, but annoys the pilot enough to have it give chase.
    • In fact, she does this several times. Bear in mind that she is barely a hundred pounds and not a Mechwarrior herself. However, by the end of the Camancho's Caballeros trilogy, one of her fellow Caballeros points out that she has taken down or destroyed over a battalion of enemy 'Mechs (36+ 'Mechs) without one of her own, and this includes things ranging from skittish 20-ton scouts to massive 85-ton command 'Mechs. She might well constitute a penjak silat practicing Person of Mass Destruction.
    • She also does this somewhat literally when she goes after and takes out a Grand Dragon 'Mech in the course of Hearts of Chaos.
    • Another BattleTech example has a bunch of common street punks attempt to provoke a Clan Elemental into a fight during the course of a Halloween celebration. Please note the punks are noted to be nothing more than average teenagers, and an Elemental is a Power Armor wearing Super Soldier bred from birth to take on 'Mechs and win, standing somewhere between 7 and 8 feet tall and weighing over three hundred pounds without their armor. While the Elemental was not wearing his armor, he still easily flattens all but one of the punks, who wisely flees the situation.
  • In Unseen Academicals, Andy Shank continues to antagonize Mr. Nutt after finding out he's an orc, and later the Shove taunts Nutt for this same fact. Of course, Andy is Ax Crazy, and it's frequently said in the Discworld books that angry mobs are only a fraction as smart as their stupidest member.
    • In the Big Match Andy and his cohorts commit many acts of Unnecessary Roughness against the UU team, seemingly forgetting that the UU players are the most powerful wizards on the Discworld. However, whoever poisoned the Librarian's banana must have been outright suicidal.
    • Snuff has a warning about Badass Vimes from his butler to someone who was tempted to start bullying, or at the very least, to be annoying. The only way to piss off the Dwarfs, the Trolls, Ankh-Morpork AND Überwald at the same time would be by doing this, so it would be.. unwise.
  • In The Princess Bride children would often bully Fezzik the giant because they knew he wouldn't fight back. Ironically, in the movie he was played by Andre Roussimoff.
  • Of Mice and Men has Curly, a light-weight boxer, picking a fight with Lennie; it ended with Lennie crushing Curly's hand to a near-pulp.
  • In The Dresden Files short story "Day Off", a small-time (very small time!) hedge practitioner and his female assistants/cultists challenge Harry Dresden, full Wizard and Warden of the White Council, to a magical duel, to make a point. Harry proceeds to truthfully point out several different ways that they are utterly outmatched and out of their league, both in terms of personal magical ability and combat experience (i.e. when Harry responds to their challenge by pulling out a revolver, they almost panic on the spot).
  • The Big Bad of Warrior Cats dies because of this. He tries to push around Scourge, who gets tired of him and kills him. Nine times. In one blow.
  • Literally done in Lord of Chaos, the sixth book of The Wheel of Time, when the Aes Sedai attempt to "tame" Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, by kidnapping him and transporting him inside a wooden chest, freeing him from imprisonment only for daily abuse. This, despite the knowledge that the Dragon Reborn is the Reincarnation of the most powerful male channeller known to history, and the legends stating that only he can prevent The End of the World as We Know It (albeit by breaking it); the Aes Sedai are simply so full of themselves that they believe having Rand under their control is more important than the physical and psychological damage done to him in the process. Much carnage occurs on all sides when Rand's allies rescue him, including several Aes Sedai losing their own ability to channel forever.
    • In the Aes Sedai's defense, the leader of that particular mission was secretly Black Ajah, so she wanted to drive Rand mad and/or turn him against the Aes Sedai as much as possible. It was still very dumb of those with her to follow such orders, but there actually was a reason for them in addition to being full of themselves.
    • Cadsuane Melaidhrin, full stop. For several books she passive-aggressively bullies Rand and pretty much everyone else in the series. Finally gets called out for it by Rand's father.

Live-Action TV

  • Game of Thrones:
    • Viserys, in a fit of madness, thinks he can push the barbarian warlord Khal Drogo around by violating his sacred laws and holding his wife hostage with a sword, while surrounded by Drogo's soldiers. It ends about as well as you'd expect.
    • The season 2 finale has a literal example. Pyat Pree has captured Daenerys's dragons and taken her hostage. Unfortunately for him, her dragons are just learning how to breathe fire on command.
    • In the backstory, this happened to the Mad King. He executed Ned Stark's father and brother, pissing off half his kingdom and leading to the rebellion that would kill him and end his family's dynasty.
    • Catelyn does this by taking Tyrion Lannister hostage on her own authority, pissing off the most powerful family in the continent.
  • Veronica Mars demonstrates over and over that a) she's very helpful to have on your side when you're in trouble and b) she can and will mess you up if she feels like it. Doesn't matter; everyone at Neptune High continues to mock her and treat her as a scorned outcast. Lampshaded in season three when Veronica asks Dick how after all he's seen her do, he still doesn't fear her.
  • In early episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it was known to all that at the very least Buffy had burned down the gym at her previous high school, yet people like Cordelia and Harmony picked on her anyway.
    • They'd started picking on her before her violent reputation had made it around the school... and by the time they found out they also had experimental proof that Buffy would not physically retaliate against them if verbally bullied, so they kept doing it anyway.
    • Also, by the end of season 1 Cordelia has stopped picking on Buffy because she's figured out that Buffy makes a routine career out of hunting and killing monsters that could end Cordelia's life with casual effort. Harmony doesn't... but then again, Harmony's supposed to have the IQ of lint.
  • In Volume 5 of Heroes, Edgar the Knifethrower deliberately starts a feud with amnesiac arch-villain Sylar, not only despite but even because of Sylar apparently having a well-known reputation amongst the superpowered community as an unstoppable brain-stealing murder machine. Sure, Edgar is Darth Maul and amnesiac Sylar is quite mild-mannered, but it still looks like Edgar is just asking for trouble.
  • In Dexter, it's really not a good idea to threaten the title character, or especially his family, but most people don't know that he's a serial killer. There are the occasional exceptions, like Lila, and Miguel Prado
  • Many episodes of The A-Team have some incredibly small and weedy looking men attempting to push an angry looking Mr.T around, and then actually looking surprised when they get thrown through a window. Possibly they're surprised at the lack of injury.
  • In an episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank", a dead man revives in the middle of his funeral, which leads the townspeople to believe that his corpse was possessed by a demon. As the episode progresses, these people decide to attempt to force the young man out of town. He gets them to back down by invoking this very trope by stating that if he really is a demon, then they would have more sense to treat him nicely because he could really mess up their lives if he decided to.
  • Gossip Girl: Surprisingly often someone tries to hurt or annoy Chuck Bass. They never learn that it's a big mistake to do so. Blair as well. And if you take on both of them, well...
  • Clark Kent was often bullied on Smallville despite that fact that even without powers, he is still very buff and capable of punching people out.
  • On Chuck, this happens more often than not with Casey in a comedic sense, like when he's filled his daily quotient of stupidity from the Buy Morons, but every so often this trope come into play on a serious issue. In Chuck vs. Operation Awesome, an old oriental woman is bitching at Chuck about the Buy More's lack of customer service, while Chuck is just concerned with wanting to tell someone outside the loop about his being a spy, worrying for Devon's safety (since he's been kidnapped), and his feelings toward Sarah. He finally snaps, flashes on how to speak Korean, and yells at the woman in her native tongue to more-or-less Shut the Fuck Up, surprising everyone around him, including Jeff, Lester, and more importantly Sarah, because he's always been so pacifistic. It's made even more apparent when Chuck Intersect-kicks Lester for trying to mess with him, Bruce Lee-style only moments after telling off the Korean lady, which drops everyone's jaws even further.
  • Benjamin Lennox's first meeting with Hyde in Jekyll is made of this trope. It starts off with him interrupting Hyde while he's having sex, and it just goes downhill from there... in retrospect, claiming to own the superpowered psychopath was probably a bad idea.
  • The Addams Family. Most people are just terrified, but there are some who are more antagonistic. They don't see the problem with being offensive to people who consider torture a nice activity for the whole family. Fortunately for them, the Addamses are very nice people. But then, there is their family motto... "We gladly feast on those who would subdue us."
  • In the The X-Files episode "Schizogeny," everyone believes that a sixteen-year-old murdered his stepfather. Some of his classmates get in his face and make fun of him for being a "psycho killer." They apparently thought there was no way this could backfire on them.
  • True Blood
    • Common humans feel the need to pick on vampires, even though vampires are superhumanly powerful and like to eat people.
    • The Brotherhood of the Sun are religious bigots who decide that kidnapping Godric is a good idea to show the vampires that they mean business. They don't seem to think about the fact that Godric commands some very nasty and violent Texan vampires who are only kept in check because he is now a pacifist. Godric is also over two thousand years old and commands the loyalty of some really powerful vampires like Eric.
    • The Vampire Queen of Louisiana tends to bully her subject vampires and order them to do things that they find distasteful. She seems to forget that some of them like Eric are actually older than her and only follow her out of feudal loyalty.
  • One episode of iCarly had a newcomer bully who liked to pick on Sam. Sam didn't retaliate as she wanted a boy she liked to see her as normal. However near the end, when the trio are at their local hangout waiting for said boy the bully arrives and starts hassling the three. Said bully finally goes too far when she pushes Carly (who was keeping Sam back) who promptly orders Sam to "rip her head off!" Sam gladly goes to town on her.
  • The Vampire Diaries
    • Why don't people learn that annoying Damon Salvatore isn't a good idea...?
    • Damon himself just can't seem to get in through his head that Katherine is stronger than him, much nastier, capable of using most of the town as weapons, and can enter his and his love interest's home anytime she wants. A lot of Damon and Stefan's conversations in the second season include Stefan reminding him to 1. Stop letting her manipulate him. and 2. Stop trying to make her angry.
    • Damon seems to have a major problem with this trope. He also tried to intimidate Pearl, who had a few hundred years on him and responded by gouging out his eyes, Jules, a werewolf, during the full moon, and Elijah, who's an Original vampire and could decapitate him with one punch.
  • Subverted Trope on Angel. Gwen is a young woman who can electrocute people by touching them with her bare skin; as a child she was sent to a boarding school and is approached by a boy asking if she's "a freak." The audience braces itself...but he's not bullying her, just asking her an innocent question, and follows up with "you don't look like a freak." Unfortunately, he offers to share a toy car with her, and when she reaches out to take it, she ends up electrocuting him to death anyway.
  • Glee‍'‍s Santana Lopez - a tallish, bitchy but light cheerleader who can hold her own in Cat Fight against most girls in the school - picks a fight with Lauren Zizes over her developing relationship with Puck. Unfortunately for Santana, Lauren is the Ohio state champion in greco-roman wrestling, and a big, confident girl with a bad attitude to boot. Calling the resultant fight a Curb Stomp Battle is possibly longer than the actual fight.
  • From Mighty Morphin Power Rangers we have Bulk and Skull, who (as Linkara pointed out) regularly bullied a group of six classmates, all of whom could easily beat the crap out of them (even though they mostly seemed to pick on Billy, the weakest of the group). Luckily for them, the Rangers were far too nice to ever do anything. It is shown in Tommy's introduction, though: they go to harass the new kid, only for him to pull off an impromptu demonstration of his martial arts skills (never actually touching either bully), which causes them to run away in wide-eyed terror.
  • Airwolf: Don't mess with Stringfellow Hawke's friends. He will personally send you straight to hell.
  • As a villain in a new-series Doctor Who episode learned, trying to chain up and experiment on a Dalek is a bad idea. Deciding to capture and torture the Doctor is an even worse one.
  • Anderson and Donovan on Sherlock seemed convinced that Sherlock is a psychopath who will one day commit murder in order to assuage his boredom. This doesn't stop them from endlessly taunting and hassling him, which only leads to him humiliating them by utilizing his Sherlock Scan.
  • The Fiery Priest: A cult in league with the Government Conspiracy decides to picket Gudam's church, calling Father Kim a child killer. At no point do any of its members seem to consider that if he really is the murderer of children they're accusing him of being, he'd logically have even fewer qualms using lethal force against adults.


Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Greek Mythology:
    • Hercules fits this trope. Hercules was normally a nice guy and more than willing to help you out. However, there are several stories of kings cheating him out of payment only for Hercules to sometimes come back years later and kill them for having dared wrong him. The worst offender being King Laomedon of Troy who refused to pay Hercules AFTER he had witnessed the hero killing a sea monster sent by Poseidon. Hercules eventually killed Laomedon and nearly his entire family after sacking the city. What makes Laomedon even dumber? The monster was sent by Poseidon due to Laomedon refusing to pay him for building Troy's walls. The only guy that had any justification was Eurystheus, the guy who gave him his Labours. Because he had Hera on his side/back.
    • We also have Jason. His protector was the goddess of marriage Hera, and he had seen his wife Medea (who had been given to him by Hera herself) cutting her own brother into pieces to protect him and killing an unkillable bronze giant with a look (depending on the version, she either hypnotized it into killing itself or tortured him into suicide). Then Jason decided to dump her for the daughter of the king of Corinth. Cue Hera withdrawing her protection and letting Medea destroy Jason so much that killing him would have been merciful (in latter versions includes killing their own children to destroy Jason's line), burning alive the king and his daughter (she was actually aiming for the daughter, the king just tried to save her and died in the process) and destroying Corinth either as collateral damage or, in earlier versions, for the citizens trying to exact revenge on her by killing her children.

Professional Wrestling

  • Michael Cole. After his 2010 Face Heel Turn, he's bullied John Cena, Jerry Lawler (his arch enemy), Jim Ross, The Rock (twice), Daniel Bryan, the WWE Divas (all of them), and even Jack Swagger to their faces. All of them could easily beat Cole to a bloody pulp if they wanted to, and half of them actually did.
    • The WWE Divas deserve special mention here. He seems to save his venom for two very specific Divas, Natalya Neidheart and Eve Torres. While most of the Divas are accused of being Faux Action Girl Eye Candy, he decides to pick on possibly two of the most dangerous of them. Natalya is a veteran wrestler and a member of the Hart Wrestling Family. Eve is a trained Gracie Jiu Jitsu fighter, and is (in Real Life) dating a member of the Gracie Family. He decides not only to bully the two most dangerous female Dragons, he also chooses the two most-well connected.
    • Cole also regularly mocks Booker T, Zack Ryder, and Ted Dibiase Jr. (following Dibiase's 2011 Heel Face Turn).
  • In 2007, Santino Marella would regularly mock Stone Cold Steve Austin: mangling Austin's catchphrases, cosplaying as him while acting like an idiot, bashing Austin's movies and declaring him a horrible actor. When Austin finally confronts him face-to-face, he forces Santino to admit that he never actually watched any of his movies. Austin offers Santino a DVD of The Condemned and requests that he watch it before evaluating his acting skills, but Santino throws it down and stomps on it. Que beatdown.
  • Since the beginning of 2012, Cody Rhodes has made it his mission in life to mock The Big Show, calling him a fat loser and continuously showing clips of Show's embarrassing moments. No matter how many times Show catches up to him and gives him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, he just won't stop. Come Wrestlemania 28, Rhodes ends up paying the price, as he not only got KO'd by Show, but he lost the Intercontinental Title as a result. And now Show's returning the favor to Rhodes, showing humiliating moments during his matches.

Tabletop Games

  • Shadowrun
    • Magic users are looked upon with distrust and fear by a large segment of the population, and many actively discriminate against them, often on religious grounds.
    • Demihumans are sometimes discriminated against by humans for being "freaks." Demihumans include trolls, who stand seven to ten feet tall, are extremely strong, and have armor-plated skin.
      • Being fair, anti-troll discrimination is usually social and verbal and under circumstances where physical retaliation will rapidly get the troll arrested. The other kind involves entire gangs of racists, often with guns, vs. one troll.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • This is also true of sorcerers, who have innate magical talent. Even standard wizards tend to do it, even though sorcerers can cast more spells per day than them.
    • Warlocks suffer an even worse treatment (due to their powers often but not always having a demonic origin) and Complete Arcane (the book introducing the class) points out how it should be standard for most settings to scorn, resent and persecute warlocks. Given that warlocks are casters who have an unlimited store of spells (unlike the sorcerer, who will eventually run dry), and have a built-in, 60-foot range weapon that ignores armor and shields, this really makes no sense.
    • There is also half-dragons who are almost always treated badly by humans in Dungeons & Dragons. Yes, they think it's a good idea to pick of the person with claws and sharp teeth who can breathe dangerous substances and often has a parent that can level the town. The Dragonblooded supplement has a short story at the beginning of the chapter on Spellscales in which the main character encounters a young spellscale girl being bullied by a mob of normal kids, and managing to cast a high-enough-level Sleep spell to knock out eight or ten at once. Eberron averts this by making the half-dragons considered abominations by the dragons.
  • Wizards and Psykers of Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 respectively. The Wizards normally don't give a damn about what peasants think but soldiers love them, and psykers, well, their powers come from Chaos... Considering that psykers are incredibly vulnerable to Power Incontinence, Demonic Possession, and in more than a few occasions having their skull turned into a portal to allow The Legions of Hell to overrun the planet, this trope becomes even more ridiculous if treatment of them within the Imperium wasn't less "ostracism" and more "immediate execution".
  • Magic: The Gathering


  • The Phantom of the Opera - Although the Phantom has the previous day dropped a heavy backcloth on the Opera House's Prima Donna, the managers still think it's be a really great idea to completely ignore his demands that Christine be cast, and instead choose a singer who is much inferior to her. The Phantom promises that "if these demands are not met, a disaster beyond your imagination will occur." Let's just say these aren't empty words...
    • They do wise up by the second act, however, when the Phantom crashes the Masquerade Ball and says, in effect, "Hey, here's the score for this opera I just wrote; I think you guys will know what to do with it. Oh yeah, that Falling Chandelier of Doom a few months back? That was me being nice." The managers, albeit very reluctantly, realize open defiance is not the safest of options.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: The people in this list know the guy who they are bullying is dangerous, but they did not care. Christian ends well, but the others...
    • Act I Scene II, Ligniere brags about his song, where he expose the persecution of Roxane by De Guiche. Ligniere himself admits De Guiche is a powerful noble who is wedded to the niece of Richelieu.

Ho! he must rage at me! The end hit home… Listen!

  • Act I, Scene IV. A bore bluntly mentions Cyrano that he cannot pretend to humiliate Montfleury, an actor protected by the Duke of Candale, and not to have himself a protector.
  • Act I, Scene IV. After seeing Cyrano dealt with the bore, De Valvert mentions Cyrano nose.
  • Act II Scene IX. After some comments about Cyrano’s murdering ways by the cadets, Christian makes a Hurricane of Puns about Cyrano’s nose.

Video Games

  • The player actually can bully a dragon in Zork II. Although truthfully, it's not so much "bully" as "disturb its nap, then annoy it with your puny sword until it incinerates or eats you."
  • In The Witcher the eponymous Witchers have to take a lot of verbal abuse from normal people. None of them stops to ponder whether it's smart to mock someone who you'll need when you're once again troubled by some undead menace (a common occurrence in this world), and who can break the finest human fighters in half with his superhuman mutant reflexes and Healing Factor.
  • Phantom Brave: The People of Ivoire think main character Marona is "The Possessed One" who can kill them all by summoning armies of the undead. So they hire her to solve their problems, insult her, then cheat her out of payment. They do get better.
  • In her childhood, Blaze the Cat from the Sonic the Hedgehog universe was bullied for her pyrokinetic powers.
  • City of Heroes: The thoughts running through every single street gangsters' alleged mind must be: "I live in a city where people wielding earth-shattering powers run around dressed in bright colored spandex. I'm bored and I have a baseball bat. Let's attack the very next person we see dressed like that!" The only question is whether it's dumber when they're attacking any hero they see or when they're entirely ignoring really powerful heroes bearing down on them as if they weren't even there.
    • The second one is very clearly a useful survival strategy. Most of the time, heroes of a high enough level to mop the floor with a spawn of villains won't get enough XP from it for them to bother, but if the villains went around hitting first...
    • "Just pretend he isn't there, and he'll go away..."
  • After a few days of lockdown in Devil Survivor, mobsters start to hunt down devil tamers. This either end with killing a tamer who was trying to save them or a pissed tamer countering with summon demons.
  • The beginning of Overlord II has kids tossing snowballs and taunting the Witch-boy, a Creepy Child who blasts lightning with his hands and gains controls of vicious little Minions early on. It Gets Worse later on when after being tossed out of Nordberg by the village for The Empire, frozen in a block of ice and later raised by an Evil Chancellor, he returns as a full-fledged Evil Overlord ready to either enslave or slaughter Nordberg.
  • Blanka's intro in Street Fighter IV shows him, an eight-foot-tall, muscular ogre with electricity powers, being taunted by the people of his hometown. Great plan, folks.
  • Ar tonelico has an evil company of mercenaries that actively abuse and denigrate their magic-wielding partners. This is doubly stupid, since there's the obvious "oops I fireballed your face" factor plus being mean to them severely limits the power of the abilities they can use to help you.
  • In Yggdra Union, Gulcasa was born the first pureblooded descendant of the dragon Brongaa in hundreds of years. This made him a savior to his people, and gave him the right to the throne. The previous Emperor did not like this, and under his orders, Gulcasa was treated as a harbinger of disaster and abused throughout his childhood. Too bad for the Emperor of that time that Gulcasa is literally the descendant of a demonic dragon. At least the coup d'etat was over really fast. There was much rejoicing.
  • Done in Arc the Lad: when they find a more-or-less 5 years old child who's already able to kill soldiers by summoning flammes, Seiyras scientists decide to turn him into a guinea pig: the adult version of said kid, last survivor of a genocide, tortured during his childhood eventually team up with the world most wanted terrorist and is instrumental in destroying the Ancient Conspiracy for which the scientists worked.
  • Two of the Masters in Fate/stay night have a real problem with this. The first is Shinji, who only evades being killed because it would upset Sakura, Rider's real master. The second is not so lucky and is in fact dead quite a while before the story starts. Caster's Master was jealous of how much better a magus she was, so he put a power limiter on her and then abused her. She got tired of it and tricked him into using up his Command Seals then brutally murdered him.
  • If you choose the "Earthborn" origin in Mass Effect (You were born on Earth, orphaned, and grew up on the streets), you eventually run into a former member of a gang you used to be a member of. Commander Shepard is both the commanding officer of a Black Ops Human Alliance Ship, and a Spectre, essentially given carte blanche by the Galactic Council to do whatever they want. Your "friend" tries to blackmail you, because apparently he thinks revealing that you were a former gang member would ruin you; even though the Alliance and Council are willing to look the other way if you mow down mind controlled civilians or exterminate an entire race. You can choose to point out that you're legally authorized to execute him where he stands... or you can just shoot him.
    • Really, regular mercs inexplicably trying to kill Shepard at every possible moment fits this trope, regardless of the origin. Harkin, a corrupt cop from 1 and 2 even taunts Shepard by asking if they think they can get him. There are also several small encounters where someone tries this on Shepard, who can sometimes point out either that a)They are Commander Shepard, aka the galaxy's biggest badass and just what the hell do they think they are trying, or b)They may not know they are dealing with Shepard (or may not believe it), but they can surely see how badass Shepard is, so shut the hell up.
    • Quite possibly the best example of this in the series is Warden Kuril who attempts to knowingly imprison Shepard, the most Badass person in the galaxy, and hold him/her for ransom or sell him/her on the black market as a slave. It doesn't end well for him. Especially stupid, since you belligerently refuse to surrender your weapons on entering the prison, even threatening Kurill, and he (still fully intent on capturing you, remember) lets you keep your weapons. Even more stupid if you're playing a class that wouldn't have been significantly less dangerous without weapons. What exactly was his plan for imprisoning a Shepard that could throw him across the room with a mean look?
    • In the Mass Effect: Redemption comic, some shuttle pilots try to get additional "docking fees" from Liara T'Soni. Liara, as it turns out, is a powerful asari biotic who works with Commander Shepard.
    • After a "fight" with Shepard which primarily consists of him running away and calling in close air support from a gunship, biotic ninja Kai Leng decides to taunt the man/woman who has killed multiple Reapers via email, even mocking Thessia's destruction and taunting Shepard about any former crewmembers of his/her's he's killed.. He lasts about as long as you would expect when you fight for real.
  • In Tales of Rebirth, Hilda, a "Half" (Half-Huma[n] half-Gajuma) was always despised when she was a kid (and still is). Which wouldn't make much difference, except that Halfs, despite having a weaker body, have much stronger and harder-to-control magic than both Humas and Gajumas. (Un)Fortunately, she never fought back.
  • A literal example in Breath of Fire IV. The Empire keeps messing with both Ryu and Fou-Lu even though they are quite aware of what they are. Needless to say, neither ends well.
  • "And people actually voluntarily attack you? Are they just stupid?" - remark of Sergeant Kylon to the Warden in Dragon Age: Origins after a side quest.
    • Also lampshaded when you first meet Flemeth during your initiation into the Grey Wardens. One of the Mauve Shirts in your party accuses Flemeth of being a witch, and the other one says "If she is a witch, do you want to make her mad?"
      • Flemeth in regards to this trope is doubly amusing when you find out she often turns into a dragon.
    • There's also a rather sad example in Lothering, where a band of refugees attack you out of desperation to collect the bounty Loghain has placed on your head.
    • If you tell a couple of bandits that you are the Warden Commander in Awakening, some of them immediately realise that its better to leave, while one actually jumps off of a cliff and likely to their death, just to avoid having to fight you.
    • Arl Howe is probably the king of this trope, as well as Do Not Taunt Cthulhu. If you took the Human Noble origin, he brags to you about how he butchered your family. Is there a brain in his head at all?
      • Well, that's kinda the point. Remember, he butchered your family. And you're in a fantasy-medieval setting where a nobleman's only proper response to that kind of thing is 'bloody revenge'. So Howe actually does have valid reasons to taunt you — it won't make his position any worse, it might possibly give him improved odds of winning the upcoming fight if he can put you mentally off your game, and if all else fails he at least had the pleasure of trolling you one last time.
  • In Dragon Age II:
    • Chantry zealots such as Petrice go out of their way to escalate hostilities against the hundreds of elite Qunari warriors who were shipwrecked in Kirkwall. The Qunari have done nothing against Kirkwall for years despite the Arishok's growing disgust with the Wretched Hive of a city since they are busy looking for their sacred relic. They aren't even actively looking for converts to the Qun—people are joining them of their own free will. Near the end of Act II, when Petrice murders Seamus Dumas after he joined the Qun the Arishok warns Hawke that the provocations the Qunari suffered have finally worked and later launches a full invasion of the city.
    • Likewise, we routinely see Templars or Slavers threatening mages who don't have good control over their powers (or cause them to become desperate enough), that the only way out they see is to allow demons to possess them and become Abominations.
    • Despite being well known as the Champion of Kirkwall by Act III, the amount of people who try to murder the person who defeated the Arishok in single-combat is particularly baffling, especially if Hawke is a Mage.
      • Being fair, every person who comes at you in Phase III either has no idea who you are, is already backed into a corner with no way out, is insane, is a fanatic, or is an insane fanatic. The game actually is good about having people stop attacking you for motives of rational self-interest sometime late in Phase II.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon: When she was five years old, Alma Wade was found to have extraordinary psychic abilities, and they were growing more powerful. So her father had her put in a lab where she could be studied and others protected from her. However, he and others involved in the project decided to step it up by sealing her away forever and inducing a permanent coma, because she was proving dangerous to them. Then they artificially impregnated the now-teenage girl, twice, in an effort to make viable telesthetic offspring that could be used for their company's purposes. She woke up during both births, and screamed to let them keep her babies. Then they deem her still too dangerous, despite the coma, and shut off life support and leave her there forever. She doesn't die. And when Alma escapes years later, she is apocalyptically pissed off, and oceans of blood follow. The people involved in the project get the worst of it, including her father.
  • This happens a lot in Oblivion (and Fallout 3, for that matter):
    • You can be walking around carrying a glass warhammer the size of a wolf, clad in the finest armour in the land custom made for you by the Elder Council, be hailed in the street as the Champion of Cyrodiil, the Grand Champion of the Arena, be known as the leader of the Fighters and Mages guild... and some punk will jump you by himself and demand that you give him a paltry sum of money or he'll kill you. Similar things happen in Fallout 3, where you can be a walking tank packing a plasma rifle and someone will try to take you down with a bat. This is particularly unforgivable as the local radio announcer is constantly updating the entire wasteland with information on how badass you are.
    • This trope can also be applied to you. When Liberty Prime is repaired an attacking the Enclave, you "can" attack him, though doing so is a surefire why to get killed because he never dies no matter what you shoot him with and he can kill you in one hit with his Eye Beams. In other words, don't do it.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, if you have bad standing with Caesar's Legion, you will attract assassin squads. Said four-man squad (who admittedly tend to be well-equipped for the task) will run up to you and proclaim that Caesar has ordained your death for your crimes against the Legion, before attacking. Said crimes can include killing Vulpes Inculta, singlehandedly wiping out Cottonwood Cove, Nelson or the Fort, not to mention killing the previous assassin squads.
    • The NCR isn't much better, however. Not only do they also send Rangers after you, if at the ending you decide to pull a fast one on them, General Oliver will state that were he in your shoes, he'd have you hung. While he's surrounded by securitrons armed to the teeth who will do anything you say, though to be fair he's surrounded by his own Elite Mooks and at that point you have the option of getting Yes Man to punch him off of the Hoover Dam.
  • The same goes for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. You may be walking around in a daedric armour, with the legendary Big Badass Sword of Doom, be confirmed Nerevar Reborn AKA the biggest Badass in Morrowind's history, who just killed a diabolic demi-god three other demi-gods couldn't handle in a fight. Yet some people still tend to believe they have a chance against you. It's worse if you're a vampire or publically known werewolf.
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim makes no exception to this trope, Despite equipment, magic or other ablities, Bandits, Witches, and other humanoid enemies will still charge at you head on, despite you being the only one who can stop the dragons that are currently bringing about The End of the World as We Know It.
      • It persists even after you finish the sidequest. You can be publicly known to all provinces as the Dragonborn, slayer of Alduin the World-Eater, Thane of all nine holds, Champion of over a dozen Daedric Princes, Arch-Mage of Winterhold, Master of the Thieves' Guild, Listener of the Assassin's Guild, and Harbinger of the Companions, and rider of dragons. You are universally known as having slain a god in single combat. And you'll still get random bandits making runs at you at the side of the road.
  • A literal example of this is the cause of much of the warring that takes place in Fire Emblem Akaneia. Humanity mistreated the Manakete race (Dragons who took on human form to escape a plague of mental and physical degeneration), despite the fact that they earlier spared them from annhilation by battling against the rogue Earth Dragon tribe, who went berserk due to their refusal to become Manaketes. Eventually, one of them gets sick of it, and rallies his likeminded bretheren together to put the humans in their place.
  • Halo 3: ODST plays this straight, and lampshades it, in the 7th Audiolog. A man in a car is honking his horn while people run in panic in the streets. A very large man who was giving away kebabs to refugees approaches and leans on the man's car, telling him to calm down and have a kebab. When the man keeps honking, the butcher tells the man "My friend, I am an eight hundred pound man with a large cleaver, who kills animals every day and chops them into small pieces. Do you really want us to be enemies? Or would you rather have a nice kebab?"
  • In Portal 2, GLaDOS repeatedly torments Chell even though she knows first hand (from Portal) of what Chell is capable of. Then she starts tormenting Wheatley and refuses to turn the insults off even when she gets kicked out of her body and facing a nigh-ominipotent Wheatley, repeatedly calling him a moron and claiming the player did all the work during their escape plan. This gets her (and the player, by proxy) punched down a bottomless pit.
  • This is one of the staple tropes of Touhou. Yes, they're restricted by the Spell Card rules, and yes, generally the antagonists in a situation are legitimately powerful in their own right, but considering the number of horrifically powerful beings that are encountered in Gensoukyou on a regular basis a lot of characters would have been converted into a fine red mist several times over had not the targets of their antagonism been more interested in having a good fight than actually winning. Cirno provoking Marisa in Great Fairy Wars instantly comes to mind, as does Marisa herself attacking Yuuka Kazami in her own home while she's sleeping in Lotus Land Story.
  • Cynder from The Legend of Spyro trilogy gets a lot of grief from Sparx due to being the Big Bad of the first game (though she was Brainwashed and Crazy at the time) who made a Heel Face Turn. This is despite the fact she's far larger than him and is nearly as powerful, if not as powerful, as Spyro himself. Several other characters also do this while referring to her by her old nickname "The Terror of the Skies". Sure, she's not a gigantic monster anymore, but she's still tough enough she could beat the tar out of them without a second thought if she wanted to.
  • In In Famous and inFamous 2 if you choose to take the infamous route then average citizens (even unarmed women) will throw rocks and mock you (an amazingly powerful villain).
    • In fairness, if you take that route, you kind of deserve it, making it less like bullying and more like standing up to the monster wrecking their city for no real reason.
  • Due to Dude, Where's My Respect? similar to other games, in Pokémon people with 10 level Magikarp will still try to battle you after you are a Champion (i.e. the best trainer in a region) and single-handedly saved the world from disaster. May be justified as the whole point of this game is to get stronger by defeating more experienced trainers.
    • Also, Pokémon battles do no lasting injury to the participants so what they're doing is basically the equivalent of full-contact sparring with a known martial arts master to try and improve their martial arts.
  • Lufia: The Legend Returns puts this around Gades, a god of destruction, who is regularly mocked by an Idiot Hero and his Deadpan Snarker partner, resulting in two full strength beatings. Mayor Fugo threatens Gades once and gets his new mansion destroyed almost instantly.
  • The unarmed generic mooks in Batman: Arkham City will actively taunt Batman if they see him but can't reach him. Made all the more hilarious when you hear prisoners comment about how the last time they met up with Batman he left them with several broken bones.
  • In Red Dead Redemption during the first mission with Landon Ricketts John Marston is greeted by a trio of Mexican thugs who are hassling him for being an American interfering in the affairs of Mexico. John says that he has no problem with them personally and he is just here in Mexico on official business, he then asks them politely to leave him alone and they can all go home to their families. The trio then continues to harass John and even steals his hat. John then having had enough of their tomfoolery shoots all 3 of them casually and takes his hat back. John by now has killed hundreds of bandits that decided to get in his way so those 3 didn't have any clue who they were messing with. Landon Ricketts lampshades the killings of those 3 idiots and tells John that he becomes like a peasant when he kills peasants and that he isn't exactly endearing himself to the people of Mexico by casually killing men like that. A dragon killing casually when it doesn't need to is just showing off.
  • In the beginning of Baten Kaitos Origins, some low-ranking Dark Servicemen start taunting Sagi after he's overheard musing over the morality of the assignment. They apparently forgot that Sagi is both a spiriter and a talented swordsman. For extra What an Idiot! points, two of the servicemen start another fight with him ten minutes later - while Guillo is backing him up.
  • Araman chasing you down after the battle on the Fugue Plane in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. Sure! Singlehandedly attacking a party of four probably-30th-level characters is a wonderful idea!
    • One troper reported Araman getting blown away on the first round of the fight.
    • Oh, and this is after you killed him once already.
    • At the beginning of the original campaign, Amie Fern ends up Stuffed Into the Fridge after she fires off a magic missile spell at a Githyanki mage who's giving her master Tarmas a hard time. The Githyanki basically rolls his eyes, then one-shots her.
  • In a rare non-willing example, in Devil Survivor 2, to destroy Alioth's Giant Flyer warship, Kama is recruited to shoot an arrow into Shiva's eye, as he did in a certain myth, so Shiva uses his spear Pasupata to strike Alioth. Problem is, Kama remembers very well what Shiva did to him last time he pulled that trick, and has to be forced into doing it again. When the time comes, he's also tricked into believing he'd be protected by JP's. Instead, it turns out only his memory would be protected, and he's promptly elevated into the air against his will to the correct angle so Pasupata's attack destroys both him and Alioth.
  • Ubiquitous to MMOs, where no matter how high your level, how ridiculous your gear, or how far your progression in the story quest you will still aggro every random mob in the wilderness just like a level 1 scrub will. Particularly amusing in Guild Wars 2 because completing the Path of Fire expansion pack means that your character has successfully slain Balthazar, the human God of War, in single combat and yet random pirates and bandits will still leap out of the bush at you screaming 'stand and deliver!'.
    • Admittedly by this point you're already famous for those multiple Elder Dragon kills, but at least you brought an army along for those. Its just possible that said random mobs could be thinking that you're largely famous as a commander and that if caught alone, they can take you. But every civilized race on the continent knows that you cut up Balthazar by yourself, the fight had multiple witnesses. And people still voluntarily attack you?
  • In the first Bayonetta, Luka is an Inspector Javert type who thinks Bayonetta is a wicked seducer who killed his father; he continually stalks the anti-heroine, hoping to expose her and is not afraid to make these accusations to her face. Obviously Bayonetta could break him in half any time she wanted to, but she is not the monster he assumes - and finds his rants amusing.

Web Comics

  • Project 0: to quote the trope description this is implied to have happened to 'the kid who can warp the fabric of reality and just wants to be left alone.' Instead of fighting back he just decides he wants to go home instead.
  • The first episode of Minus, and it happens a few times later. Fortunately, it depends on her mood whether she'll retaliate or go do something else. Later on other kids start to realize that it's cool to have someone who can warp the fabric of reality as a friend. Unfortunately, asking her for a favor can be just as bad.
  • From Spinnerette, in this strip Alexis, AKA Evil Spinnerette, is being taunted by some Alpha Bitches ... despite the fact that she's a Drider, normal human from waist up and giant spider from the waist down (and has 6 human eyes in 2 columns of 3, or 3 rows of 2). Not to mention the fact that it took a super hero to capture and subdue her in the first place.
    • Subverted. They work for her, and she set it up so that Good Spinnerette would feel sorry for her and believe her claims that she wanted to turn back human.
  • A plot-arc on Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic had the human inhabitants of a village relentlessly bullying both a female Orcish innkeeper and her young daughter, who is able to bite through chunks of wood and drive a large metal spike into a board with one hand. After being kidnapped by a raiding party, she returns to wreak bloody vengeance on all those who slighted her.
    • Also, Played for Laughs with Chimera... twice.
      • Dewcup's grade of wisdom may be rather typical for her kin. In the second case, the stone gets a pass, as it was about the size of the target's brain, but trash talk over an empty catapult was obviously a bad idea.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Jack, who made an accidental trip into Zimmy's world, viciously teases Kat (whose parents are teachers) and Annie (who is friends with two godlike Trickster Mentors as well as most of the staff). Earlier he edged into Too Dumb to Live territory when he threatened Annie in front of one of the said trickster mentors, who was a giant wolf at the time (he casually brushed it off. Once you've been to Zimmy's world nothing in this one can scare you). Later justified when it's revealed that Jack was possessed by a spider-like thing from Zimmy's World that was gradually eating away at his sanity.
    • A flashback had a student (coincidentally Jack's father) teasing Surma's group after one of them conjured a giant portal. It's confirmed that the portal-conjuring student is a Valkyrie and her "Old Man" is Odin.
  • Stunt and Bumper in Dominic Deegan insistently kept trying to rob the eponymous character, despite them knowing he's a capable magic user who can see the future. The stuff they kept stealing would inevitably be worthless and booby-trapped.
  • Ralph makes this mistake in Sandra and Woo after being told by a schoolmate that he should really, really not bully Cloud, especially if Cloud is currently carrying a sword... or a plastic knife from the school cafeteria.
  • Sinfest had Seymour, the resident Christian Fundamentalist Knight Templar, under a fit of Fantastic Racism, antagonize Fuchsia, a devil girl in the midst of a High Heel Face Turn for her Interspecies Romance with Criminy. Given that on their first meeting, Fuchsia set him on fire, he really should have known what he was getting into.
  • Wapsi Square: Bud reminds Shelly of this trope and its folly.
  • The Order of the Stick: Tsukiko does this to Redcloak repeatedly, who is a much more powerful cleric than she is, and he takes it every time until she finally threatens to reveal his plans to Xykon. It ends very, very badly for her. What little justification for this behavior involves her belief that she has Xykon in her corner keeping Redcloak in line.
  • Girl Genius had some people mistreating Jägermonsters just because they used to be afraid of Heterodynes' supersoldiers and think they have the upper hand right now. Jägers, while hanged, are more afraid of meeting their own communication officer. Who, naturally, arrives - riding a giant bear - and after she asks politely to enter the town, one guard shoots. After she catches the arrow, another lad screams "fire!". Hilarity Ensues. The prize, though, goes to the Wulfenbach troops commander who due to being on the wrong end of a Curb Stomp Battle screams to fall back and wait for airstrike. When a Jäger General looking like Big Red Devil says they're now "just asking for it", the bright guy adds an insult to his hometown.

Dimo: You know, brodder, sometimes hy tink pipple dun vants to us to give dem battle scars.
Maxim: Vot? Den vhy does dey alvays pick fights?

Notes to self:
T. Rex confirmed opportunistic predator.
Find better way to test theories.

  • Schlock Mercenary: a few Enireth frat boys decided to pick on a human. And chose Nick. Okay, they don't know he's a mercenary and in a low-profile Powered Armor, and may not have noticed several other people in the same uniform around yet. But they have to see that he's at least as massive as two of them put together, and this clearly isn't fat.

Nick: Are you pickin' a fight wif' me?
Narrator: Anyone with half a brain would know that this question, asked in this tone of voice, by a man of this size, has exactly one correct answer.
Enireth Frat Boy G: Yes I am. What are you going to do about it?
Narrator: That was not it.

But as games evolved, moved to 3d and the enemy stopped being "mobs" to be people with motivations and dialogues you start to also expect them to behave more human-like. So when your Avatar of Death incarnate walk around mounted on a T-Rex while holding Excalibur on one hand and a BFG 9000 on another those street thugs would stop bothering you.

Web Original

  • Occurs in Whateley Universe to Tennyo, who has very, very bad luck. Unfortunately, she can also blow up very big things.
    • Proving that the Whateley authorities are not as stupid as you'd think, Tennyo now has a special order on her. Taunting her, bullying her, starting a fight with her, etc., can now subject you to immediate expulsion!
    • There has only been one case where this is not so. Let me just say that it involved the simulators, the reincarnation of the Greek god of the underworld and two hackers. Greek God has issues and wasn't expelled. Those who set it up, however...
    • Most of the "Class X Entity" students fall under this—Fey, for example, is a Wiz-7 -- a mutant/mage so powerful that her special order says that the corrupt Mutant Control Office has pre-approval to use lethal force on her if she gets out of line.
    • Pointed out to Carl, after he provoked the former top Ultraviolent: "First it's you getting mixed up with demon-girl, then you aggravate Merry, and now you can't leave the giant clawed, spined mutant kid who tears the demons apart like a wolf in a chicken hatchery alone? When will you learn?" Minutes after this admonition, Carl taunts said "spined mutant kid" again, resulting in a beatdown ending with the loss of a femur.
    • How about Gotterdammerung? He's a skinny, cute kid who gets picked on a lot. His power is mass disintegration. He isn't going to kill you, so he's easy to bully.
    • That bullying happens AT ALL in the Academy qualifies, considering that nine times out of ten the bully doesn't even know the victim's abilities beforehand, and the tenth time the "weakling" victim either has a nasty surprise up their sleeve, has recently taken a level in Badass, or has a pack of really powerful friends just around the corner. Either way it always seems to lead to a brutal curb-stomping for the would-be bully.....
    • Actually, this sounds like a Mugging the Monster entry because of the last comment. Since they don't know the full extent of their victim's power, it is not a good example unless they should know.
      • Well, they know that their victims have power of some sort. And just assuming that it's less than yours is taking a pretty stupid risk.
  • Happens to Mackenzie Blaise, the half-demon protagonist at Tales of MU. She's super-strong, invulnerable to non-magical attacks, and can conjure fire at will, but she's had it impressed on her that she doesn't dare fight back.
    • Doesn't really count. All of her fellow students who aren't either pacifists or "Fierce Creatures" like her are required to carry magical weapons with them at all times, making them pseudo-dragons too.
  • Alfred in the 3rd RP of Darwin's Soldiers. He is a hulking bison with hands bigger than most people's heads and is strong enough to bend rebar with his bare hands.
  • Bob in SMG4's Bloopers decides to bully a Teletubby by kicking her Tubby Custard bowl. Since Teletubbies in this universe are violent maniacs, this comes back to haunt him when the Purge begins, where the Teletubbies are legally allowed to commit crimes (including murder) over the span of 24 hours.
    • Gustave is an even more extreme example. There have been cases where people have tried to pick fights with him, despite being a massive scarred up, Nile crocodile with a major anger management problem. Not to mention, he has several convictions for assault and he dismembered someone with his bare hands.
  • Part of the Evil Overlord List involves being kind to either that weird kid in school or any monsters under your thrall, for this very reason.
  • Happens literally in the French mp3 saga Reflets d'Acide, where a bunch of thieves attempt to ambush a beautiful young woman on the road. The woman turns out to actually be the Evil Black Dragon Alia-Aenor in human form, who merciless kills them.
  • This video, featuring an opinion on the Top Ten Final Bosses in Video Games, starts with Sephiroth and Kefka complaining about not being included in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Kingdom Hearts 3, stopping when a Piranha Plant notices and starts laughing at them; the scene breaks right before it likely turns ugly...

Western Animation

  • Disney's Hercules has kids mocking the title character and calling him "Jerkules", specifically for his superhuman abilities making him a "freak". They were only able to get away with it because it's a Disney movie and Hercules is a good guy. The Hercules of the actual myths was known for letting his anger get the best of him, often with lethal results for the mortals involved (though at least one of these rages was induced by his nemesis Hera, and cost him his family).
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
    • The show could practically be titled Taunting the Reaper. The entire premise requires that the Grim Reaper never snap under constant torment and do away with the kids.
    • Nergal Junior is constantly bullied in school. Even though everyone knows he's a borderline-Eldritch Abomination shapeshifter with electric tentacles.
  • Hey Arnold!: Several episodes deal with people (usually Sid and Stinky) teasing either Harold or Big Patty, either of which can and will beat the crap out of them in retaliation.
  • X-Men: With the powers that crop up, this tends to happen a lot. The writers of the original cartoon even supplied a harmless but visible mutant - a timid little man with fur, Neanderthal features, and claws instead of fingernails - as a recurring background character constantly harassed by mobs.
  • X-Men: Evolution has probably one of the most severe offenders in one bully named Duncan, who constantly tried to threaten Cannonball. Yeah, threaten the guy who you just saw blow a hole in a brick wall by accident, there's a life-lengthening move. He doesn't even have the brains to back down when the magma-creating girl threatens to burn a hole through his car. This isn't even the half of it: The X-Men team in Evolution had a mostly offense-oriented team, with about half of them having some variation on "shoot deadly stuff from hands" as a main power. Of particular note, people kept on bullying Scott, despite the fact that every time they did there was a good chance he'd accidentally blow a hole in the wall (or them).
    • Not that it's completely unreasonable - Duncan and the others known that the students at Xavier's institute were taught only to use their powers to save lives, and that it's not okay to blow up someone for picking on you. They rarely pick on the Brotherhood mutants, who wouldn't hesitate to beat the hell out of them for any reason.
    • To complement the last point, after Jean dumps him because he's a jackass, Duncan tries to get Scott expelled for using his powers... by stealing his glasses and trying to beat him up with two other friends! Eye beams! Deadly! It's like they want to die. Scott then takes them all down in about a second, with his eyes still closed. They still think they can take him, only finally leaving when two more X-Men show up. Duncan eventually bit off more than he could chew when Spyke, who had previously left the Xavier Mansion, decided he wasn't going to take anymore of his crap. What resulted was a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for Duncan and his gang.
  • In an odd, "friendly" case, the Teen Titans episode, "The Beast Within". Specifically, Robin's um, "questioning" of a possibly unstable Beast Boy, and with predictably disastrous results. To be fair, this almost seems have been intentional, by the writers—it seems like the kind of Patton-esque personnel management tactic that a scared, stressed out teenager raised by Batman might think was a good idea to try in a crisis.
    • In the episode "Troq", Val Yor openly belittles Starfire to her face with a racial epithet directed toward Tamaranians, despite her species' Super Strength, durability, Flight, ability to withstand vacuum, energy attacks with occasional Eye Beams, and advanced technology being common knowledge. And apparently multiple aliens have this attitude toward Tamaranians. To be fair, however, while us lowly humans would no doubt be threatened by such a line up, Val Yor has powers nearly equal to hers (minus space breathing and somewhat weaker energy projection), so, from his perspective, the dragon isn't all that tough (though this does make you wonder why he treats the puny, primitive earthlings with respect while the alien princess from an advanced, superpowered society gets treated worse than dirt).
    • Val Yor is apparently motivated by the Tamaranians' trait of allowing emotions guide their lives. Of course, by the end, Starfire not only saves his life, but the team kicks him off the planet. Even then, he has learned nothing, concluding that humans were 'just like them'.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy:
    • Ed is unbelievably strong, yet he allows himself to get bullied by almost everyone. Sadly, he's just too nice to realize he could probably kick Kevin's ass. (In the movie, he does wreck the shit of Eddy's much feared older brother.) The one episode where he was in a bad mood, he inspired genuine fear in his little sister Sarah, brought his strength to bear against the same people who usually have no trouble antagonizing him, and in lieu of drumming his fingers impatiently against the tree stump he was sitting on, he dug tracks into it with his fingernails. Hell, even the skies darkened over him. Good thing he went back to his goofy lovable self by the end - turns out there was a rock in his shoe the whole time.
  • An episode of The Venture Brothers combines this with Mugging the Monster. A random bar owner constantly insults Brock's hairdo, and while he likely did not know that Brock is a secret agent who normally murders people who show him disrespect and has a license to kill (which he likes to use with gusto but had expired at that point), Brock was still twice the man's size (in muscle) and had biceps bigger than the man's head. Combined with his perpetual angry scowl, you'd think he'd know better than to insult the guy who looks like he could bench press an armoured vehicle and is looking for any excuse to blow off steam.
    • And of course the first thing Brock does after his license to kill is renewed? Show it to the guy, who insulted him again on the way in. The next time we see the bartender, he's sporting a fancy new eyepatch.
  • The Simpsons,
    • Parodied in an episode where one of Ranier Wolfcastle's films involves him going undercover as a nerd at a high school. Ranier Wolfcastle is a huge, muscle bound actor, but he's dressed as a nerd so obviously some bullies try to pick on him. They even lampshade it by saying "Look, a huge, muscle bound nerd!" It ends with Wolfcastle throwing one of the bullies through the chest of the other.
    • Another hilarious example, from the trip to Australia where Bart is to apologize for his prank calls. Homer notices the guard at the gate and mistakes him for a British royal guard, making funny faces at him for a few seconds until the guard punches him hard in the face. "US MARINE, SIR!"
      • And then later he starts jumping back and forth across the USA-Australia line in front of the embassy:

Homer: Look at me, I'm in Australia! Now I'm in America! *hops back and forth* Australia! America! Australia! America!
(A Marine punches him hard as he lands on the US side)
Marine: Here in America we don't take that kind of crap, sir!

  • In "Lisa the Iconoclast", a flashback scene shows that Jebediah Springfield (actually the evil pirate Hans Sprungfeld) tried to assassinate George Washington, attacking him while George was posing for the famous portrait by Gilbert Stuart; Hans gets his ass handed to him. Not much of a stretch, given how tough Washington supposedly was.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Bonnie Rockwaller's constant petty harassment of Kim, despite knowing full well that if Kim decided she'd had enough, her only choices would be "run" or "catch a beating". To be fair, she knows that Kim isn't the type to lose control easily, and the one time she nearly does, Bonnie backs down instantly and dissolves into tears.
    • A cut scene in So the Drama have Monique and Kim discuss this, where Kim decides that beating on Bonnie would make her a bad student, in comparison to, say, trying to kill Shego at the end of the film.
      • In all fairness, Bonnie is a high school girl with no criminal record, and Shego is a superpowered adult who has a rap sheet as long as her arm and a history of attacking Kim with intent to kill. Beating Shego until she leaves the scene on a gurney could still easily be explained away as self-defense or apprehending an armed and dangerous fugitive - so much as punching Bonnie once would be a felony. (As she is a trained martial artist Kim's attacking an ordinary civilian would almost certainly be prosecuted as aggravated assault, not misdemeanor assault.)
    • And A Sitch in Time has Drakken, Monkey Fist, and Killigan go back in time to bully a preteen Kim. When they start on Ron the kindergarten Kim trounces them. Later, Drakken wants another crack at it.
  • In My Life as a Teenage Robot, the Kruft cousins take every opportunity to torment and belittle XJ-9 socially, attempting to guarantee that Jenny never, ever becomes anything close to popular. XJ-9, a.k.a. Jenny, is a cheerful, sweet-natured girl who also happens to be a walking, talking, sapient weapons system capable of destroying entire alien battle fleets single-handed. In one episode, with the aid of a more aggressive friend, Jenny finally shows them exactly what she can do to make their lives miserable. Even after she drives them into a breakdown, they don't learn from the experience.
  • The 1939 Tex Avery short "A Day at the Zoo" has a recurring gag with Egghead (Elmer Fudd's prototype) teasing a lion, despite constant scolding from the narrator. The short ends with the lion sleeping peacefully, leading the narrator to the conclusion that Egghead finally went home - but it turns out that the lion actually ate him alive.
  • Batman Beyond:
    • In the first episode, Nelson taunts Terry for not being athletic enough (the classic "loser"). When a gang of Jokerz shows up and Terry turns out to have sufficient fighting skills to chase off the entire gang, Nelson's response is "I always knew you were a freak." Fortunately for Nelson, Terry (pretty much perpetually) has bigger fish to fry. Nelson does have some brains, though, because when Terry stands up to him later in defense of helpless nerd Willie Watt, Nelson knows better than to pick that fight.

Terry: Lay off him, Nash.
Nelson: You think I'm afraid of you, McGinnis?
Terry: I dunno. (lifts an eyebrow) Are you?
Nelson: (pushes Willy out of the way) He's not worth it. But you are... some day. (gets in his car and drives off)

  • Speaking of which, in a later episode, the former typical nerd Willie has just broken out of Juvenile Hall using his newfound telekinetic powers and goes after everyone at school who made fun of him, including Nelson and his cheerleader girlfriend. Even after seeing what Willie can do, and the fact that Willie is no longer a wimp, having extensively used the gym while he was locked up, he still taunts the guy. Willie even agrees to a one-on-one fight without telekinesis, but goes back on his word once Nelson starts winning.
  • This happens to Lucius on Jimmy Two-Shoes. As a child, he was bullied by his teacher, despite knowing full well that he was the future ruler of Miseryville and that he'd have the resources to fight back one day. Even nowadays the weavils and the Rodeo Clowns love to pick fights with him despite having an entire army at his beck and call. Even Heloise is guilty of this at times.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic; Happens with an actual dragon in "Dragonshy", where a napping dragon is causing problems for everypony by blowing smoke into the town with its snoring. Rainbow Dash's oh so brilliant strategy to make the dragon leave is to yell at it to get lost, then kick it in the face. It takes her less than a second to realize that this was a really bad idea. Then it becomes a Defied Trope by Fluttershy who yells at him for his Disproportionate Retribution (the kick annoyed him at best) and that he could have handled it without trying to kill them all.
  • South Park:
    • In one episode, Cartman gets his humancentiPad taken away and he starts cursing God. Cue Cartman getting struck by lightning and him sobbing in the hospital
    • Another example comes after Stan, Kyle and Kenny have watched Cartman take some rather extreme revenge. They decide it would be a good idea if they never pissed Eric Cartman off again. Cartman is not superpowered though, just sociopathic.
  • A literal example occurs in the Gumby episode "The Elephant and the Dragon". Both creatures work for a storybook king (the Elephant as manual labor, the Dragon as a castle guard), but the Elephant keeps picking arguments with the Dragon. This pisses off the Dragon, who torches people's houses with his his breath. To stop their arguing, Gumby uses a back-hoe to do the Elephant's job just as efficiently and without arguing with the Dragon (and without torched houses). The Elephant takes the hint and apologizes for causing so much trouble.
    • As for what they were fighting about, the Elephant keeps asserting that dragons are mythological, and therefore shouldn't exist. The Dragon torches houses to prove that he's real.
  • Sadlygrove from Wakfu has a bad habit of doing this. The worst example of this was when he taunted Rushu, the king of the demonic Shushus and one of the most powerful and omnicidal beings in the setting. Fortunately Rubilax invokes the Rush right before Rushu is about to incinerate Sadlygrove for his impudence.
  • On one episode of the animated series of Street Fighter, as Guile and Blanka are in Iraq, some of the people there call him a monster and throw rocks at him. Yes, that's exactly what you want to do to a big green creature with electrical powers and anger issues!
  • Family Guy:
    • One episode had Peter visiting Australia. During a walk, he comes up to a sleeping crocodile and starts poking him with a stick, yelling "Wake up, sleepyhead!" Subverted in that after a few pokes, a koala flies out of nowhere and latches on to Peter's face instead.
    • "Dial Meg for Murder". Properly described here.
  • Pops up occasionally in Avatar: The Last Airbender. When most of the cast are powerful Kung Fu Wizards, it's only a matter of time.
  • In The Jungle Book 2, Lucky the vulture gets the brilliant idea of openly mocking Shere Khan to his face. Once he tells Shere Khan where Mowgli is headed just to taunt him... Well, let's just say that Lucky didn't live up to his name shortly afterwards.
  • Ling Ling from Drawn Together gets abused by the rest of the housemates in some episodes...completely forgetting that the little Asian rat is perfectly capable of ripping them apart easily if he wants to in order to have sex with their skulls. Xander learns this the hard way in one episode.
  • A rare Justified example in the 2011 ThunderCats reboot, when young Catfolk protagonist Lion-O pulls a Go Through Me in defense of some stockaded Lizard Folk prisoners, the Powder Keg Crowd of townspeople harassing them rapidly whip out the Torches and Pitchforks calling for a Vigilante Execution of the Lizards. The mob leader's response to Lion-O's protests is to call him "Lizard Lover" and threaten to put him in the stocks. Though Lion-O is a formidable Bare-Fisted Monk and Thundera's crown prince, soon joined by his brother Prince Tygra, their authority does absolutely nothing to prevent the brawl that breaks out, because Lion-O has a longstanding reputation as a Cloudcuckoolander and Category Traitor in his culture of Fantastic Racists.
  • Squidbillies Early Cuyler's response to being declared a protected species? Get drunk and pick a fight with a jaguar.

Early: More like a faguar!

  • This tended to happen every time Spike the Bulldog appeared in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Despite being a dog, Spike rarely goes out of his way to antagonize Tom, and was usually trying to take a nap, spending time with his toddler son Tyke, or otherwise minding his own business. But in his efforts to get to Jerry, Tom would eventually annoy Spike (or worse, Tyke) until the dog lost his temper and beat him within an inch of his life. And Tom never learned.

Real Life

  • Any time a small nation intentionally annoys a superpower.
  • Fans at Professional Wrestling shows who jump the rails to attack the wrestlers or interfere in the matches. Professional wrestlers are all either extremely large, extremely muscular, or both. They're also trained and paid to throw their weight around. Not the kind of people you want to mess around with. Even the referees tend to have basic wrestling skills and often beat the wrestlers to the punch.
  • Famously happened to Andre "The Giant" Roussimoff, who was harassed about his size by four drunks in a bar. Andre attempted to avoid confrontation, but they persisted. Eventually, he chased them out of the bar, and when they locked themselves in their car, he rolled their car over with them in it. Andre was never charged, probably because the police never believed the four drunk guys ranting about an angry giant that knocked their car over.
  • A similar, sadder event happened to Davey Boy Smith, the British Bulldog. Harassed by a man in a bar who recognized him to the point where the man laid hands on him, Davey Boy Smith ( at one time considered the strongest man in professional wrestling ) put him in a simple headlock. From which the man was unable to extricate himself, no matter how he screamed or struggled. Sadly, Smith walked him over to the bar's bouncer, said, "Can you take care of this?" and when the bouncer said, "I have it," let go. That's when the idiot tripped over his own feet, fell down, and opened up his skull to the brain on a protruding nail. And sued.
  • People who taunt military personnel, who are trained to kill people.
  • Richard Kuklinski told a story of an associate of his who owed money for gambling debts. Kuklinski vouched for him and told the associate that he should make sure to pay up. The associate told Kuklinski that if Kuklinski didn't continue to vouch for him, he would harm Kuklinski's family. Kuklinski is perhaps better known as "The Ice Man", a professional assassin for, among others, the Gambino mafia family. No guesses for how Kuklinski took care of the matter. However, Kuklinksi is widely suspected of having been the teller of tall tales.
  • Then, we have the "genius" who decided that he wanted to challenge Bruce Lee to a fight. He decided that the best way to do this was to hop over Bruce Lee's fence, into his backyard, scaring the shit out of Bruce Lee's children. As described by a witness, a very, very angry Bruce Lee then proceeded to give the man the hardest kick he'd ever thrown, putting him in the hospital with one blow.
  • British Royal guards are trained and renowned to never move or act without reason. They carry loaded assault rifles with bayonets and are active duty military personnel. If you ever give one reason to arrest you (or find a less-reserved one), you will have your ass handed to you.
  • Some incidences of animal abuse occur on very powerful animals that could kill the attacker easily, if only they didn't have a My Master, Right or Wrong mentality.
  • Pretty straight forward example here. Casey Heynes was being picked on by a kid two-thirds his size. When the little rat began throwing some vicious punches, Casey had enough.
  • Less dramatic examples than the others, but anyone who taunts an admin or mod on an online forum.
  • This bird.
  • Most animals who have run into a skunk tend to avoid them at all costs, including bears! Still, some dog owners have reported having dogs who just don't get the message, and there are some animals with that same mentality. Pity the dog owner that found out the hard way ... and having to bathe that terrible smell off their pet.
  • Porcupines and dogs. A golden retriever will yelp and run away after getting a few quills in its nose, having learned a valuable lesson. A pit bull will get pissed, grab and shake the porcupine, getting quills stuck in its mouth, in its eyes and all over its head and neck.
  • Despite some rather obvious problems with this approach, some would-be thieves still try to rob a gun store, police station, or a jailhouse.
  • A man by the name of Frank "Rocky" Fiegel who lived in Chester, Illinois was known throughout the town for being the local scrapper. One tale mentions that several young men took him out to the woods with the intent of ganging up on him and beating him up. He came back without a scratch while the men out in the woods needed medical attention. To further illustrate this man's fighting ability, he was the inspiration for a certain cartoon character with a noted love for spinach.
  • Nikolai Valuev is a seven-foot-tall, 331-pound professional boxer with a record of 53-2-1[when?]. Yet a 61-year-old man still decided to cuss out his wife over a parking spot. Needless to say, the first punch literally knocked him several feet through the air.
  • The attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II, as noted in the entry for Tora! Tora! Tora! above. Yamamoto may or may not have actually said the "sleeping giant" line, but we do know that he mentioned his misgivings regarding this to his superiors:

Yamamoto: In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success.

  • Audie Murphy in Hollywood. Wannabe macho types would take one look at this wiry little five-foot-eight man with the babyface and the soft, high-pitched voice and say: "That's the most decorated American soldier of WWII? I bet I could take him." Murphy had been a scrapper in school and in the Army due to his hot temper, small size and Embarrassing First Name, and practiced boxing and judo in Hollywood. He invariably curbstomped his attackers with anything that was handy, ranging from riding crops to lead pipes to bricks. Eventually he got tired of having to deal with these clowns, and finagled a concealed-carry permit from his friends in the LAPD. After that, he would usually just pull a .45 service revolver on the troublemakers and make them back down without a fight, which saved considerable wear and tear on his knuckles and their faces.
  1. "Never tickle a sleeping dragon."